Press release

Individual disqualified as trustee for 4 years after failure to evidence how charity funds were used

Charity Commission reports on its investigation into Deen Team

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The charity watchdog has today published a report of its statutory inquiry into Deen Team – this sets out the regulatory action it has taken including that it has disqualified an individual from being a trustee for 4 years.

The Commission opened an inquiry into Deen Team in June 2016. The charity had previously been identified for a proactive visit, in 2014, as it was a newly registered charity operating in Syria, a high-risk area. Following that visit the Commission had a number of concerns about the charity regarding poor governance and financial controls and issued the trustees with regulatory advice and guidance. The Commission attempted to re-engage with the trustees in 2015, but following poor cooperation from the trustees it subsequently opened an inquiry to investigate these further.

Throughout the inquiry the Commission attempted to obtain evidence from the trustees to show how the charity’s funds had been applied. The trustees were unable to provide complete records and therefore failed to meet their legal duty to account for how they had used all the charity’s funds.

The inquiry also found that:

  • the individual disqualified by the Commission had paid themselves £2,000 from the charity’s funds and was unable to provide records to support their claim that this was to cover charity fundraising and administration costs
  • all decision-making was deferred to the disqualified individual; two other individuals who became trustees after the Commission initially engaged with the charity were unaware of their legal duties
  • a former trustee of the charity continued to use a property that the charity rented at a nominal rate of £1 for their own purposes without the consent of the charity’s trustees. The charity’s existing trustees did not appreciate and acknowledge the asset’s value to the charity and failed to protect it from the conduct of the former trustee

Throughout the inquiry, the disqualified individual failed to comply and cooperate with the Commission or to respond to a number of legal directions and orders made by the Commission.

As a result of the misconduct and/or mismanagement identified in the inquiry, the Commission has used its power under section 181A of the Charities Act 2011 to disqualify the individual from being a charity trustee or holding a senior management position within a charity for four years. Further details can be found in the report.

The Commission has removed the charity from the register as based on information provided by the trustees and obtained during the inquiry it considers that the charity has ceased to operate.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:

Trustees are collectively responsible for how their charity is run and all trustees should be aware of their basic duties and take them seriously. Trustees can delegate certain responsibilities to staff members or individual trustees but they must always retain sufficient oversight and not allow one person to effectively take over control of the charity. Having multiple trustees is essential so that trustees can challenge each other and hold each other to account where necessary, ensuring that decisions are made only in the best interests of the charity.

Charity trustees must keep detailed accounting records to allow them to show exactly how they have used their charity’s money, and how what they have spent it on furthers the charity’s purposes. This is essential to charities being accountable and transparent to donors, the public and the regulator. In this case, the trustees of Deen Team were not able to do this and we have therefore exercised our regulatory powers.

The Commission’s full report of its inquiry into Deen Team is available on GOV.UK.

Ends

PR 82/17

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see the about us page on GOV.UK.
  2. Search for charities on our check charity tool.
  3. The new discretionary disqualification power in section 181A of the Charities Act 2011 brought in by the Charites Act 2016 allows the regulator to disqualify a person it considers unfit from being a trustee, for a maximum period of 15 years.

Press office

Published 21 December 2017