Fake charity investigated for raising illegal funds for Syria

A fake charity, which was set up to provide aid for Syria, has been investigated by the Charity Commission and ordered to transfer funds to a registered charity with similar aims.

The Global Welfare Project was investigated by the regulator after it was found to be illegally calling itself a charity with the aim of providing aid to Syria such as water and sanitation, aid containers and support to hospitals, orphans and widows.

According to the regulator’s inquiry, the organisation was found to be using the registration number of another registered charity and its trustees failed to account for significant sums of charitable funds donated to it.

The Charity Commission said it was first notified of the fake charity in 2014 by West Yorkshire Police, when the police were warned of an organisation operating under the name of Global Welfare Project that was appealing for donations from the public for charitable purposes.

The regulator confirmed to the police that it was not a registered charity, nor had an application ever been received to register the charity. The Commission deemed this as “misleading” and said it is also an offence to solicit money or other property with a representation that an organisation is a charity registered with the regulator.

The police conducted an investigation regarding individuals connected with the organisation, which concluded in 2016.

Following the Charity Commission’s investigation, the organisation was prevented from withdrawing or transferring any funds from its bank account, unless authorised by the regulator.

Furthermore, the inquiry found that the individuals running the organisation did not fulfil key duties under charity law by failing to maintain full and accurate financial records.

The remaining funds in the organisation’s bank account have since been applied to a charity whose purposes are similar to that of Global Welfare Project’s.

Commenting, Charity Commission director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement, Michelle Russell said: “Charities rightly have special status within our society. Our report makes clear that those individuals who held funds on behalf of the organisation were trustees of charitable funds with the duties of charity trustees.

“We found that they failed to monitor and fully account for the funds that were applied which is why we intervened to ensure the remaining funds are properly applied. This case serves as a reminder to trustees of charitable funds, that they must comply with charity law, and their behaviour has an impact on public trust and confidence in the charity sector.”

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