A high-powered laser pointer, night-vision goggles and a secret money pouch were among the items purchased using charitable funds intended to help people affected by the war in Syria, a Charity Commission report has concluded.
The regulator’s report, published today, says Adeel Ul-Haq, 21, of Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, was sentenced in February to 12 months in prison for funding terrorism after he sent charitable funds to Islamic State.
On his Twitter account, Ul-Haq appealed for money to help people affected by the Syrian crisis, but instead sent it to an Islamic State fighter in Syria, according to police.
He was sentenced to a further five years in prison for helping another person travel to Syria.
The Charity Commission report says it was unable to account for much of the £12,500 raised by Ul-Haq, but at least some of it had been placed in a second person’s bank account, then used to buy the laser pointer, goggles and money pouch on the online auction website eBay on Ul-Haq’s behalf.
At least £2,000 of the money had been sent to a genuine charity, which is not named in the report, but the eBay purchases had raised concerns the money was not being used for charitable purposes, the report says.
"Whilst recognising that it is not illegal to purchase such items, the inquiry was extremely concerned by the use of charitable funds to purchase a night-vision scope and its potential usage given that it can be used for hunting or surveillance," it says.
Although no charity existed in this case, Ul-Haq had taken the donations on trust that they would help people in Syria, so he assumed all the legal duties and responsibilities of a trustee for a charity, the report says.
It adds that the person whose bank account held some of the money and was used to make the eBay purchases should be considered a second trustee. This person is not named in the report but no charges were brought against her, the report says.
The regulator concluded that Ul-Haq had breached his fiduciary duty to protect and apply charitable funds for the purposes for which they were raised and that there was evidence the second trustee had committed misconduct and mismanagement by allowing the charitable funds to be mixed in the same account as her own personal funds.
The second trustee was ordered to repay any other charitable money in her account to Ul-Haq’s account, which had been frozen by the commission at the start of the investigation.
This money, along with the remaining funds in Ul-Haq’s account and cash seized in a police raid of his home, totalled about £4,500 and was donated to two genuine charities working in Syria, which the commission did not name.
Ul-Haq has been removed from his role as trustee and is disqualified from acting as a charity trustee in the future.