Regulator renews cash couriering warning to charities amid continuing police seizures

Continued cases of police seizing charity funds at UK ports have prompted the regulator to renew warnings to the sector over cash couriering.

The Charity Commission says it is concerned by the “number of cases involving cash seizures from individuals who have indicated that they are carrying cash on behalf of a charity or for charitable purposes”.

This can be by a charity representative or a third-party agent.

But while the Commission “recognises that charities which work internationally need to move money across borders” it urges them to always use “formal banking systems”.

These “provide the safest and most auditable means of transferring charitable funds”.

“The Commission reminds trustees, considering the use of a cash courier, of their duty to account for their charity’s income and expenditure by maintaining and preserving accounting records and to act prudently and responsibly to protect their charity’s assets,” said the regulator.

If charities are operating in cash in “exceptional circumstances” they need to evidence this decision and prove that they have managed risks effectively, the Commission added.

Such exceptional circumstances include where money cannot be transferred through formal banking processes and transporting money “may be the only option available”.

Charities are also reminded that cash of £10,000 or more has to be declared when being transported abroad. This includes notes, cheques, including travellers’ cheques, and bearer bonds.

In October last year the Charity Commission criticised international aid charity Human Aid UK, after its director of operations and two volunteers were stopped by police at Heathrow Airport in possession of £16,000 of charitable funds.

The charity representatives admitted that the funds belonged to the charity and were intended for use in Gaza but “could not provide a clear explanation as to how the finds were intended to be transferred to Gaza, or to whom”, according to the Charity Commission’s investigation into the charity.

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