Regulator takes action against trustees who were unable to account for missing £1m

The Charity Commission has taken action against charity trustees after they were unable to account for more than £1m in missing funding.

The action has been taken against the Orphan Relief Fund and Charitable Trust after more than £1m funds went missing.

It is claimed that the money had been sent to Iraq, “but without the trustees being able to provide the Commission with evidence of how this was spent”, said the regulator.

Further concerns raised are that payments had been made from the charity to its chair of trustees for personal expenditure.

The missing money include £998,746 transferred from the charity’s bank account purportedly for use in Iraq. In addition, a further £88,515 had also been transferred to Iraq.

The Commission has removed or disqualified five trustees and the charity has been wound up as well as removed from the register following its investigation.

The charity had been set up to support young people in Iraq suffering the loss of one or more of their parents.

“The public expect charities to make a real positive difference for the people they help or the cause they pursue,” said Charity Commission assistant director of investigations and inquiries Tim Hopkins.

“Charities must use their resources efficiently and effectively and be accountable to those that support them and to the Commission as regulator. Former trustees of this charity failed to meet these expectations.

“I hope other trustees consider this case carefully and note particularly their shared responsibilities to ensure that their charity’s funds are applied solely for its charitable purposes and are fully accounted for.”

Four trustees resigned after the inquiry was opened in 2017 and were disqualified for eight years. Since 2019 one trustee remained, who was ordered to wind up and dissolve the charity, which was removed from the register in September 2020.

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