Muslim Aid one of thirteen charities named as subjects of statutory inquiries

The international relief and development charity is among those affected after the Charity Commission said it would announce all such inquiries publicly

Muslim Aid
Muslim Aid

Muslim Aid is the largest of 13 charities that the Charity Commission has announced as the subjects of statutory inquiries.

A change in commission policy announced yesterday means the regulator will now publicise all statutory inquiries unless there is sufficient reason not to do so.

A spokeswoman for Muslim Aid said the inquiry was launched in November after the charity itself notified the commission of "non-compliance with some operational aspects in two field offices".

She said the charity’s own internal investigation had finished and that "remedial actions have been taken to minimise potential risks to the charity’s operations and further strengthen its internal controls".

"Muslim Aid understands the importance of the commission’s policy to announce the opening of investigations on the basis that it is in the public interest to do so," she said. "Muslim Aid is cooperating fully with the inquiry and is confident that the Charity Commission will conduct a thorough and fair process."

Three other Muslim or Islamic charities have also been named. Of these, the Quba Islamic Centre in Leicester was removed from the register in February 2013 and the commission is looking at "the financial management of the charity, in particular whether funds have been misapplied or misappropriated".

Two charities, the Quba Education and Cultural Association and the Islamic Waqf Foundation, are part of an inquiry into a transfer of funds from the former to the latter. This inquiry was linked to the other Quba investigation, the commission said.

Muslim charities have come under particular scrutiny recently and have frequently been the subject of statutory inquiries, in particular over concerns about charities being used to fund or aid terrorism, especially in Syria.

A spokeswoman for the commission said there was no terror link in the Muslim Aid inquiry, but would not confirm whether this was the case for any of the other charities.

Abdurahman Sharif, operations manager at the Muslim Charities Forum, said he feared the new policy could "lead to uncertainty surrounding several charities without due process". He said: "While the Muslim Charities Forum welcomes more accountability and transparency in the sector, we are worried about the reputational impact it could have on charities that have not committed any wrongdoing."

Shivaji Shiva, a senior associate at the law firm Anthony Collins, agreed. "Many charities, particularly Muslim organisations and those serving black and minority communities, will fear that the opening of a statutory inquiry will lead to the unwarranted assumption that they have been involved in major wrongdoing," he said.

Financial governance or financial management feature in six of the other inquiries: the Abundant Life Housing Association Ltd, the Bangladeshi Parents and Carers Association, the Khalsa Centre, Love for Children (UK), the Rebound Gateway Group and Relief for Distressed Children. Rebound has not filed any documents at all since being formed in April 2011. Abundant Life and a charity called Guild Childcare, which is being investigated for alleged unauthorised trustee benefits, also have overdue documents.

The inquiry into Relief for Distressed Children was opened in May 2006. An interim manager was appointed by the commission in 2009 "to apply charitable funds that were recovered and protected as a result of the inquiry", a spokeswoman for the commission said. The manager remains in place.

The 13 charities named this week as being the subject of statutory inquiries are:

- Abundant Life Housing Association Ltd

- Bangladeshi Parents and Carers Association

- Guild Childcare

- Islamic Waqf Foundation

- Khalsa Centre

- Life Changing Ministries International Church South Cheshire Trust

- Love for Children (UK)

- Muslim Aid

- Quba Education and Cultural Association

- Quba Islamic Centre in Leicester

- Rebound Gateway Group

- Relief for Distressed Children and Young People

- The Kertes Foundation.

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