Charity Commission examines 'serious concerns' at Didier Drogba's charity

The regulator says it has opened a case into the former Chelsea footballer's foundation because of issues including low levels of spending

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba

The Charity Commission is looking into "serious regulatory concerns" about a foundation set up by the former Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba. 

The regulator said it was looking into concerns about the management and administration of the Didier Drogba Foundation, "significant sums" that had been raised and not been spent, and allegations that donors and the public might have been misled by the charity. 

The regulator's initiative comes after an investigation into the charity by the Daily Mail newspaper, which published its findings today. 

A statement from Drogba said the Mail’s story was "factually incorrect and libellous" and he was beginning legal proceedings against the newspaper.

According to the charity’s UK accounts for the year to 30 November 2014, the most recent available on the Charity Commission website, the charity had almost £1.2m in the bank but spent only £14,115 on a hospital project over the course of the year.

But a statement from Drogba, who now plays for the Canadian football team Montreal Impact, said the foundation was set up in the Ivory Coast in 2007 and "retains proof of every single payment made and received".

Drogba said there was "no fraud, no corruption, no mismanagement, no lies, no impropriety" at the charity, and that legal letters and 67 pages of documents had been sent to the Daily Mail before its story was published.

His statement continued: "We have all the documentation required by law both in the UK and the Ivory Coast. The foundation’s work to date has been funded entirely by me through sponsorship earnings and donations in the amount of €3.7m.

"The £1.7m from UK fundraising will be used to make the main clinic fully operational, including medical equipment, staff, medicine and running costs.

"Their attempts to destroy the work of the foundation will not deter me and will not stop me continuing the work we have begun."

A commission spokesman told Third Sector that while a case had been opened, no statutory inquiry into the foundation had been launched.

David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission, said: "The commission has serious regulatory concerns about a number of compliance issues and has contacted the charity to seek an urgent response. In particular, the commission has concerns about the administration of the charity and the oversight provided by trustees, all of whom appear to live abroad, as well as allegations that the charity has provided misleading information to donors and the public.

"Further, the charity has raised and accumulated significant sums of money that have not yet been spent and further information is required about the plans to spend those funds. All these issues merit further investigation by the commission.

"Charities must be accountable and transparent to donors and members of the public who expect charities to operate and abide by the highest standards. Trustees have ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. All trustees must take these responsibilities seriously in order to ensure that the public can continue to have faith in the vital role charities play in society."

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