British Red Cross owed £22,000 by liquidated Irish fundraising firm

The online donation platform Ammado is under investigation by the Irish Charities Regulator, and the International Federation of the Red Cross claims it is owed £1.4m in total

An Irish fundraising company being investigated by the Charities Regulator there has gone into liquidation owing the British Red Cross £22,000 in unpaid donations.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has made a criminal complaint about the online donation platform Ammado, alleging that it has failed to pass on approximately £1.4m in donations it collected on behalf of the IFRC and national Red Cross and Red Crescent charities around the world.

The company, which also goes by the name Pembroke Dynamic Internet Services Ltd, was put into liquidation by the Irish High Court on 22 January.

The Charities Regulator said it had opened an inquiry into "matters relating to" the company.

The IFRC said it had suspended the use of the donations platform in April last year and warned all of its associated charities to do the same.

A British Red Cross spokesman said the charity had been working with Ammado since 2012 and had received a total of £373,000 through the platform during that time.

He said: "In April 2017 we were alerted that Ammado has not been making full monthly payments from funds raised through the platform. As soon as we were alerted, we suspended all activities with Ammado with immediate effect, which minimised our exposure and meant none of last year’s major appeals were affected.

"The British Red Cross is owed £22,000 by Ammado in undelivered donations. None of the intended appeals suffered because money from our general funds were used to ensure that those in need received the support intended."

The company is registered in Ireland, but also has an office in Switzerland, where the IFRC is based.

In a statement, the IFRC said Ammado had failed to pay the equivalent of about £1.4m in Swiss francs, donated through its platform to the IFRC and a number of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world.

The statement added: "In September 2017, following repeated unsuccessful efforts to secure the funds owed to it by Ammado, IFRC filed a criminal complaint against Ammado with the Swiss authorities. This complaint triggered an investigation that is currently under way."

The statement said the IFRC would cooperate fully with authorities to recover outstanding funds and ensure they went to the people they were intended for.

John Farrelly, chief executive of the Charities Regulator, said: "We are in contact with the official liquidator of Pembroke Dynamic Internet Services Limited.

"We have opened an inquiry and are currently considering the extent to which any issues may arise under the Charities Act 2009."

The Irish regulator has the power to open inquiries to establish facts separately from statutory investigations into charities.

Oxfam was also among the charities named on Ammado’s website as a cause people could donate to through the platform.

A spokeswoman for Oxfam GB said it did have an account with Ammado and had used it to raise a total of £107,000 between 2013 and 2016. She said Oxfam GB had not actively used Ammado’s services since December 2016, although it was still listed on the site.

"In light of recent news, we have suspended our account to avoid any additional donations being made," she said.

Third Sector was unable to contact Ammado for comment.

A notice on the company’s website from Myles Kirby, the High Court-appointed liquidator, says the company has ceased training and warns that no further donations to charity should be made through Ammado.

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