Over £13 million has been given to charities following a Charity Commission investigation into poverty charity Relief for Distressed Children and Young People.
The Charity Commission inquiry found breaches of trust and duty by trustees with misapplication of charity funds and a failure to manage conflicts of interest. As a result of the investigation, over £13 million has been distributed to charities and the charity’s former Chair has been removed and disqualified from serving as a charity trustee or holding any senior management function of any charity in England and Wales.
The Commission opened the statutory inquiry into Relief for Distressed Children and Young People in 2006 after concerns were raised about its management and administration. On opening the inquiry, the Commission took protective action to freeze access to around £13.8 million held across three bank accounts in the charity’s name.
The inquiry questioned the trustees about $6.35 million which they claimed had been spent on building orphanages in Iraq. It later materialised that over $5 million had been passed to non-charitable organisations or friends and family of the trustees in Iraq.
Funds equivalent to those misapplied, plus interest, were repaid into the charity’s bank accounts by the trustees, and in 2007, the Commission suspended the trustees with the Chair removed in September 2007 and the remaining trustees discharged from their roles in 2008.
The inquiry appointed an interim manager who, between 2011 and 2016, awarded grants of over £13 million to three charities working in Iraq to relieve poverty. After settling any outstanding liabilities, the interim manager then applied the charity’s remaining funds before dissolving it, with the charity removed from the Register of Charities on 1 March 2019.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:
“Our inquiry has relentlessly pursued these funds so that a significant sum could be safeguarded and applied to good causes.
“A series of actions by the former trustees allowed charitable funds to be misapplied and put at risk. Our protective action ensured they put right their mistakes and have been held to account for their actions.”
The full report of the inquiry is available on GOV.UK.
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