The Charity Commission has opened statutory inquiries into two charities amid concerns that they were being used to facilitate fraudulent benefit claims.
The commission said in a statement today that it was investigating Families for Survival UK and Save the Age because of concerns about benefit claims, the validity of the charities’ financial statements and evidence that casted doubt on the identity of the charities’ trustees.
Families for Survival UK, which has objects including the relief of poverty and sickness and the advancement of education for people in Kenya, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives, had an income of £316,532 in the year to the end of March 2014, up from £32,501 two years previously.
Its latest set of accounts, which according to the Charity Commission’s website have been qualified (this means the auditor doubts that the picture presented is true, complete and fair), talk about its main area of concern as being Alzheimer’s disease.
Save the Age, which was set up to help older people in areas including poverty, sickness and social isolation, had an income of £18,608 in the year to the end of March 2014, down from £45,219 in the previous year.
The two charities appear to have had one trustee in common, Chowdhury MA Muyeed, who is listed as a current Families for Survival UK board member.
A Mr CMA Muyeed is listed as a trustee of Save the Age in its accounts for 2012/13, although he is not a current trustee, according to the commission’s online register.
The main telephone numbers listed on the two charities’ websites both went through to Families for Survival UK on Tuesday morning.
Both charities issued statements saying the allegations made by the Charity Commission were not true, and they would prove this by challenging them.
The commission said it had been monitoring Families for Survival’s fundraising practices and financial administration and had been providing advice and guidance to its trustees since February 2014.
It said this monitoring was related to concerns about the charity’s financial administration and use of its funds, including payments made to trustees and volunteers.
The commission said it had more recently been informed by other agencies that they were investigating concerns that both charities were being used as vehicles for fraudulent claims for state benefits.
"Evidence provided to the commission by these agencies also casts doubt on the true identity of the trustees and the validity of the charities’ financial statements," the regulator said today.
The commission said its inquiries would examine issues including whether there had been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by trustees, whether there had been any private benefit to current and former trustees from the operation of the charity’s assets, and whether the charities had been operated in furtherance of their charitable objects and for the public benefit.