An inquiry report published today (21 February 2019) has found that the trustees of Save the Needy Worldwide (SNW) are responsible for a series of failings at their charity amounting to serious misconduct and/or mismanagement. The Commission has removed one trustee and has disqualified another as a result.
The inquiry was prompted by proactive engagement by the Commission in 2015 to identify how the trustees of SNW were complying with their legal obligations given the charity was operating in high risk areas internationally. The charity’s objects were the relief of poverty and financial need, in particular for those affected by natural or other disasters overseas.
The Commission also identified that one of the charity’s trustees had been a trustee of another charity, Worldwide Ummah Aid (WUA), which is subject to an ongoing statutory inquiry.
However, in July 2016, the Commission was informed by Bedfordshire Police that a trustee of the charity had been stopped at Luton airport with £3,260, which was seized by the police under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The Commission obtained further information about the charity’s finances and as a result of concerns opened an inquiry.
In order to protect SNW’s funds, the Commission made an order to restrict transactions and payments made by SNW’s trustees. The order prohibited certain cash collections and the withdrawal of charitable funds in cash from the SNW’s bank accounts.
The inquiry found that there was misconduct and/or mismanagement by all of the trustees in relation to the administration and management of SNW and that the charity’s property was placed at risk by the trustees who:
- failed to comply with the Commission’s Action Plan in June 2016;
- failed to comply with a legal direction to supply information to the Commission;
- placed the charity’s funds at risk and subsequently lost them as a result of the removed trustee’s conduct;
- were not sufficiently aware of the activities of the charity (on the part of SNW’s two other trustees) and thereby enabled the removed trustee’s misconduct and/or mismanagement; and
- could not fully account for the charity’s funds in accordance with charity law.
SNW has now been dissolved by the Commission and ceased to exist when it was removed from the Register of Charities on 15 February 2019.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement said:
The public rightly expects trustees to respect the trust afforded to them as custodians of their charity, as well as the privileged legal status charities enjoy.
Our inquiry found that the trustees of Save the Needy Worldwide were responsible for a series of failings at their charity amounting to serious misconduct and mismanagement. It’s therefore right that robust regulatory actions have been taken against those responsible. The charity has also been dissolved as a result of our action.
The Commission strongly advises charities against the use of cash couriering as a method to transfer charitable cash due to the risks involved. The effects of a cash seizure include the charities’ beneficiaries losing out, an impact on the charities’ activities and the loss of donor money - including the permanent loss of funds. In this case these risks materialised and there was a loss to the charity.
The full report of the inquiry is available on GOV.UK.
Notes to Editors
SNW was a charitable incorporated organisation and was dissolved by the Commission in accordance with the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Insolvency and Dissolutions) Regulations 2012.
The Commission’s Order under section 79(4) of the Act to remove a trustee, was challenged at the Tribunal; the appeal was dismissed and a copy of the judgement can be found here.