Government concludes probe into aid charity after almost a decade of intervention

The Charity Commission has concluded the latest in a long running series of probes into the charity Muslim Aid, which focuses on healthcare, clean water, and anti-poverty initiatives.

In concluding its most recent investigation, which started in 2020, the regulator found the charity has met requirements to improve, which had been laid out in an action plan. It also found that there is no mismanagement or misconduct in the charity’s organisation.

However, the Commission is critical of delays at the charity in meeting its calls for improvement through a previous action plan. This followed the charity being removed from the register and replaced with a successor charity.

Concerns at the charity and its successor date back more than a decade, when in 2010 a probe into the original charity’s links with terrorism were found to be unsubstantiated. The regulator also looked at concerns around governance issues. This resulted in an interim manager being appointed in 2016, who recommended the charity was closed a year later with its funds transferred to a newly created charity.

Despite the change of organisation, concerns around safeguarding, human resources, financial controls, and the governance of the charity’s overseas operation continued and an action plan to improve was issued in 2018.

Further concerns were also raised in 2020 around “the charity’s financial management and ongoing solvency”. It was found that “insufficient progress had been made” and the trustees accepted that their “oversight” of this action plan “had not been as effective and robust as it should have been”.

In 2020 it emerged that “weaknesses and failures to follow financial policies and procedures” had allowed a member of staff, who has since been dismissed, to falsely draw cheques for cash for £4,000.

Another concern included an intern being sacked for “providing false information” to an institutional donor.

This year the regulator has welcomed the charity’s meeting of recommendations to improve made in an internal investigation by the charity into its policies, procedures, security and management in its offices. This included a new finance manual and “robust financial procedures and increased scrutiny by the charity and its internal audit function”.

In a statement Muslim Aid said it is “pleased” that the inquiry has closed “without any regulatory action, thereby bringing an end to almost a decade of regulatory intervention”.

“The final report shows no findings of mismanagement or misconduct. The Commission did not find the need to impose sanctions on Muslim Aid or any of its dedicated trustees and staff, both past and present, who have worked tirelessly throughout such challenging circumstances to affirm the integrity of one of the UK's oldest Muslim charities,” said the statement.

It added: “Muslim Aid is now much stronger and more robust than ever. It is looking forward to a positive future focusing on the needs of our beneficiaries and delivering on the donors' trust in our charity.”

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