Charity chief who agreed payments to an armed group leaves with immediate effect

Third Sector previously revealed that the individual had been put on administrative leave last year

The chief executive of a global NGO who agreed to make payments to an armed group has left the organisation with immediate effect, it is understood. 

Third Sector revealed last week that Nancy Wilson, the US-based head of Relief International, had been put on administrative leave after it emerged she had agreed to the use of an “access consultant” to pass funds totalling about £6,000 a month to an armed opposition group in a conflict zone

The payments left the charity and and its partner organisations open to accusations of breaching anti-terrorism legislation, donor rules and RI’s internal policies guarding against bribery, corruption and terrorist financing.

Wilson was put on administrative leave at the end of December and the charity employed legal counsel to advise on the steps forward.

It is understood that staff were told at the end of last week that Wilson had left the organisation – which has its headquarters in Washington DC, with offices in London and Lyon, France – with immediate effect. 

Ann Koontz will continue as acting chief executive of the organisation while it undertakes a recruitment process for Wilson’s long-term successor. 

A Relief International spokesman said the charity did not comment on individual HR decisions. 

Meanwhile the Charity Commission, which was among the regulators to have received reports from Relief International about the payments, said it was aware of concerns. 

A commission spokesperson said: “In line with our guidance, Relief International UK, which works with Relief International, reported this matter to the commission and we are currently engaging with the trustees. We cannot comment further at this time.”

The regulator’s engagement is solely with Relief International UK, in line with its remit to cover charities in England and Wales.

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