Convicted fraudster's charity struck off register

Charity Commission takes action against company that failed to pass on £350,000 to humanitarian projects in Africa

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

A charity founded by a convicted fraudster has been struck off the register of charities, a Charity Commission inquiry has revealed.

The regulator opened an investigation into the IDB Foundation, a charitable company that had the charitable objects of supporting children and young people, in May 2006.

The commission has received allegations that proceeds worth £350,000 from a fundraising golf tournament the charity organised in Spain in September 2005 had not been donated to a registered Spanish voluntary organisation carrying out humanitarian projects in Africa, as promoted in fundraising literature.

In addition, the charity’s founding trustee, Michael Robert Alexander Brown, had been arrested and was awaiting trial on charges of fraud, for which he was subsequently convicted.

The Charity Commission inquiry found no funds were donated to the Spanish voluntary organisation after the golf event. The matter was reported to the City of London Police, which was investigating Brown at the time for matters unconnected with the charity. The commission froze the charity’s bank account to protect its remaining assets of £30,474.

The inquiry established that the charity carried out limited charitable activity – before the golf event, a donation of £26,645 was made in September 2005 to an appeal fund set up after the tsunami in Sri Lanka.

There was no evidence of any trustee meetings being held by the charity and no accounts being submitted to the commission, leading the regulator to conclude the charity had ceased to operate. The IDB Foundation was subsequently removed from the register of charities in February 2010.

Its remaining assets are being distributed to other charities with similar objects.

The inquiry concluded the charity’s trustees had not kept proper and sufficient accounting records and were not able to demonstrate how they applied funds raised by appeals. There was no evidence to show trustees had put appropriate measures in place to secure the charity’s funds following the arrest and subsequent conviction of the founding trustee. They had failed to comply with their legal obligation to file accounts and annual returns with the commission, the report concluded.

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