- Commission has ongoing investigation into funds raised
- Commission froze bank accounts of an individual to protect charitable funds
- Individual is now disqualified from being a charity trustee in the future
The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, welcomes the conviction of an individual today for terrorism offences.
Mr Adeel Ul-Haq, was convicted of a terrorist financing offence, namely the offence of entering into a funding arrangement, contrary to section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This followed a criminal investigation by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit (‘NE CTU’) involving purported charitable fundraising for those affected by the Syria Crisis (‘the Crisis’). The Individual was also convicted of assisting others to commit an act of terrorism, contrary to section 5 of Terrorism Act 2006.
The Individual had been soliciting charitable donations via his Twitter account in support of ‘humanitarian aid convoys’ and other aid efforts to assist those affected by the Crisis.
On 15 April 2014, following information from the NE CTU the commission opened a statutory inquiry into funds raised for charitable purposes and held on charitable trusts in the name of the Individual. The commission believed those funds were at risk and took immediate temporary and protective action to protect charitable funds personally held by the Individual. The commission’s inquiry was not announced publicly due to the ongoing criminal investigation.
On 25 April 2014 the commission exercised its powers and froze the bank account of the Individual into which charitable donations had been paid. On 21 July 2014, to secure the proper application of the donated funds, the commission directed the bank in which the funds were held to transfer them to another charity to apply to assist those affected by the Crisis.
The commission went on to take further regulatory action and, on 17 September 2014 made an order to remove the Individual from his role as a trustee of charitable funds. Consequently he is now disqualified from acting as a trustee or charity trustee in the future.
Since the regulatory action taken in September 2014, the commission‘s investigation has been placed on hold pending the outcome of these criminal proceedings. In accordance with its policy, the commission will publish an inquiry report once its investigation has concluded.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement said:
We are pleased with today’s verdict and that the commission has been able to protect funds donated by the public to assist those affected by the Syria Crisis. If you raise funds for humanitarian work or other charitable purposes, you assume the role and responsibilities of a trustee over those funds and are accountable for their proper use, even if you have not registered as a charity or you are not acting on behalf of one. Our investigation shows that individuals will not get away with abusing charitable funds.
We have worked with the NE CTU since 2014 to assist their investigation and so as to enable us to take action to protect and ensure the proper application of charitable funds. This process is unfinished and we will pursue all options to recover and apply any other charitable funds that can be identified.
Our message to the donating public is not to let this put you off giving to charity but the best way of doing so safely is to always check if someone asking for funds is collecting for a registered charity and that they are confident that they know what the funds will be spent on - anyone can check whether a charity is registered before they give, see who its trustees are, what activities they carry out and whether they are compliant with filing their annual returns by using our online register of charities.
Full advice for the public on giving safely can be found on GOV.UK. (See Notes to editors)
Notes to editors
Advice on safer giving for the public:
- before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number, you can verify this on GOV.UK
- when dealing online with charities, exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction - for example, to donate online, visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself rather the following a link
- be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and do not click on links contained within them; also, you should ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company as this is a popular scam
- genuine fundraising materials should include the charity’s name, registered number and will normally include a landline contact number and/or website address - be wary of those that list only a mobile number; it is a legal requirement for registered charities with an income above £10,000 a year to state it is a registered charity when fundraising on a range of documents, including websites, advertisements and other documents such as receipts
- after making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to the police; and if you think the collection is fraudulent report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or through their website
- never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately
- if you think a collector does not have a license - report it to the relevant Local Authority Licensing Team or the Metropolitan Police (if in Greater London); also let the charity and Action Fraud know if you can
- if in any doubt, contact your favourite charity directly to find out how to make a donation
- The Charity Commission (the commission) is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See GOV.UK for further information.
- To look for information about registered charities please see the register of charities.
- More information on the commission’s work in preventing and tackling the abuse of charity for terrorist purposes is explained in our Tackling abuse and mismanagement report.