The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into seven linked charities that share two trustees over suspicions of misconduct and mismanagement.
The inquiry was launched after the regulator found discrepancies in the charities’ accounts, leading it to examine their bank statements, the commission said.
The regulator said it had uncovered "potential misapplication of charitable funds and possible personal benefit".
Its inquiry will examine the charities’ financial controls and whether they operate for the public’s benefit, the commission said.
The charities are: IPAD; Friends of African Organisations; British Africa Connexions; Kono District Development Association UK; Hope Direct; Social Action and Poverty Alleviation; and Action for Community Transformation.
An examination of IPAD’s accounts found discrepancies of more than £83,000 in income and £39,000 in expenditure between the amounts on the bank statements and those included in the charity’s annual return.
The 2014 accounts for IPAD also had financial information that was identical to that in three other sets of accounts submitted by two of the linked charities, according to the regulator.
Only one of the seven charities showed any evidence of charitable activity, the commission said, with only British Africa Connexions having earned enough in the latest financial year to be legally obliged to provide accounts to the commission.
The bank accounts of six of the charities have therefore been frozen by the Charity Commission to protect charitable funds.
The commission’s statement did not name the two trustees the charities had in common, and it is not clear from the Charity Commission’s website who the trustees in question are. All seven have common contact details.
The inquiry is also considering whether the trustees have complied with their legal duties and their obligations in the preparation of the charities’ accounts.