A charity that allegedly allowed its website to be used as a platform for a suspected Al-Qaeda member has been removed from the charity register after a Charity Commission investigation.
The Didi Nwe Organisation also paid £14,000 to its chair of trustees between May 2010 and February 2013 and could not explain why, according to the commission's statutory inquiry report, published today.
The Birmingham-based charity’s trustees had committed misconduct and mismanagement, failed to keep financial records and were unable to show how the charity was furthering its causes of providing education and relieving poverty among Kurdish Muslims in Birmingham, according to the report.
The regulator opened a statutory inquiry after the charity’s chair, referred to by the regulator only as Trustee A, was stopped by police returning to the UK from France carrying about £1,800 in cash, which he claimed were charitable donations.
Police investigated, and although the cash was later returned to the charity, the investigation raised concerns about payments from the charity to Trustee A’s personal bank account and the commission was alerted.
The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in January 2013 after discovering the charity’s website contained numerous references to and articles by Mullah Krekar, an alias of Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, who has been designated as belonging to or being associated with Al-Qaeda by the United Nations since 2006.
The website also contained Mullah Krekar’s contact details and suggested times to contact him.
According to the report, trustees initially said they were not responsible for the website. They claimed it was established before the charity existed and they had taken it over, but lacked the technical knowledge to update it so had allowed the previous managers, based outside the UK, to continue running it.
But the inquiry found the website was registered to Trustee A’s address and listed the same contact email address as the one the charity was using to communicate with the commission.
The report said the inquiry had concluded that the website belonged to the charity – if not, it said, trustees had failed in their duty to keep contact details up to date.
Trustees claimed that the £14,000 paid to Trustee A’s account had been compensation for expenses, largely to cover the £600-a-month cost of allowing the charity to use a chatroom website, PalTalk, to contact beneficiaries.
But according to the report, trustees were unable to provide records of the decision to make these payments, or proof of other expenses Trustee A had claimed.
The inquiry also revealed Mullah Krekar had used the charity’s PalTalk account to give live webinars to the charity’s beneficiaries, although the inquiry was unable to discover the content of these sessions.
The report said: "The material relating to Mullah Krekar on the charity’s website and his unfettered use of the charity’s chatroom created a link between the charity and a designated individual and risked damage to its reputation.
"The inquiry found that the trustees failed in their duty to act in the best interests of the charity as they were unable to demonstrate that they had considered the risks of permitting the charity’s website to be used as a platform for a designated individual and the potential consequences of this on the charity’s reputation."
The only financial evidence of the charity’s activities the commission was able to obtain were two printouts of the 2011/12 accounts and some receipts for the postage of parcels, according to the report.
All three trustees were removed in July 2015 and the charity was removed from the register the following month.