Charity did not have inappropriate links with Indian orphanage

The Charity Commission yesterday cleared a charity of having inappropriate links with an Indian orphanage whose beneficiaries were being abused.

The El Shaddai Charitable Trust, based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, gives money to an Indian charity of the same name that runs an orphanage in Goa, on the west coast of India.

The commission received a complaint that girls in the orphanage were being sexually abused and boys were receiving severe corporal punishment.

It was also claimed that a trustee common to the two charities had been involved in misapplication of funds and property in India.

The commission looked into whether the trustees of the British charity, whose income in 2006/07 was nearly £500,000, had properly considered whether it was appropriate to continue to fund the Goan charity in the light of the allegations and their potential impact on its reputation.

The commission relied on the Indian police to investigate the misappropriation and abuse allegations. It was told that none could be substantiated, but there remained a perception within the locality that abuse was happening at the orphanage.

Trustees of both charities admitted to the commission that complaints about the Indian charity were received from time to time but were able to demonstrate that it complied with Indian child protection laws. The commission concluded that the British charity's trustees were effectively monitoring and assessing the situation.

The investigation closed at the end of January, but the inquiry report was published only yesterday, missing by five months the commission's target of issuing reports within three months of the close of an inquiry.

The report says: "Charities should put in place appropriate and effective controls to monitor their own governance and activities and those of partner organisations, so as to identify areas of concern at an early stage and be able to deal with them in an effective manner."

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