Awema sacks chief executive and finance director following government investigation

The board of the Welsh equality charity dismisses Naz Malik and Saquib Zia after allegations of mismanagement

Naz Malik
Naz Malik

The chief executive and finance director of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association have been dismissed with immediate effect.

A message on the charity’s website from its chair Rita Austin said the board had taken the decision to dismiss chief executive Naz Malik and finance director Saquib Zia following the publication of an investigation into the charity by the Welsh government.

Austin announced earlier this month that the charity would close after the government’s investigation found "significant and fundamental failures" in the charity’s control and governance framework.

These included allegations concerning Malik, such as charitable funds being used to cover personal expenses including tickets to sporting events and a parking fine, and that one of the two directors was his daughter, whose salary increased from £20,469 in 2008 to £50,052 this year.

On the same day that the government’s investigation was published, the Charity Commission announced that it had opened a statutory inquiry into the charity. The government also said at the time that all public funding for Awema, totalling about £3m, would be terminated with immediate effect.

In her most recent statement, Austin said the charity’s board had decided to appoint an insolvency practitioner in due course to take over control of Awema’s business and assets from the charity trustees and to close it.

"The Awema board is resolved to provide a proper duty of care towards our staff as Awema moves towards closure, and is taking all necessary steps to do so," she said.

"The Awema board wishes to acknowledge the gravity of the matters brought to public attention in the Welsh Government Internal Audit Services report. Clearly there have been serious failings in the effectiveness of governance and financial management within Awema."

She said the defects bought to light at Awema should not be seen as defining features of the charitable sector as a whole in Wales.

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