Commission opens inquiry into Urban Relief after trustee is jailed for laundering money

Francis Uwagbae, who is listed as a trustee of the charity on the Charity Commission's website, was jailed in January for 10 months for laundering money made at a brothel

Francis Uwagbae
Francis Uwagbae

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the poverty charity Urban Relief after one of its trustees was jailed for using the charity to launder money made from a brothel.

In January, Francis Uwagbae was imprisoned for 10 months after he pleaded guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court in London of laundering money made from a brothel, according to a spokeswoman for the court. Uwagbae is listed as a trustee of Urban Relief on the commission’s website.

The commission said in a statement today that an inquiry was opened after the conviction of one of the trustees, whom it does not name, for laundering funds from the proceeds of crime through the charity.

Urban Relief's objects are to relieve poverty and financial hardship among west African people by providing food, clothing, housing and other services. The inquiry opened on 3 February.

The commission also found that the income and expenditure reported by the trustees in the charity's annual returns did not match the amount of money that went through its bank account.

The charity’s entry on the commission’s website shows that its accounts for financial year to January 2014 are 166 days overdue. Its accounts for the financial year to January 2013 show that it had an income of £9,450 and spent £8,366.

The inquiry will examine whether charitable funds have been misapplied for non-charitable purposes, whether the trustees are able to properly account for the charity’s income and expenditure and whether trustees have fulfilled their legal duties and responsibilities to safeguard the charity’s property and assets.

It will consider whether remedial regulatory action is necessary.

The commission said in a statement: "Given the nature of the concerns, the commission took immediate and appropriate steps to ensure that any property owned by the charity was safeguarded."

Third Sector called the telephone number listed for Urban Relief on the commission’s website but was told that the number was incorrect. The charity failed to respond to an email request for comment on Friday morning.

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