A radio station that raised more than £160,000 to help those affected by the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake held on to the money for more than five years, according to a new report from the Charity Commission.
Sunrise Radio, a London-based Asian radio station, asked listeners to make donations in response to both disasters. The commission’s report says that when it opened an investigation into the appeals in November 2010, it discovered that the bank account – set up by the radio station in January 2005 to hold the donations – contained more than £181,000, which included interest that had accrued since 2005.
As a result of the investigation, the money has been given to two charities that work to relieve need in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
"The commission considered that, given the nature of disaster appeals, those donating funds to the appeal would have expected them to have been applied quickly and not six and five years respectively after they were raised," the report says.
It says signatories to the Sunrise Radio bank accounts that held the money automatically became trustees of the money.
"The trustees failed to provide a sufficient, satisfactory explanation or provide evidence to give reason for their delay in applying funds raised by the appeal," it says.
Sunrise Radio is not a charity, but the commission was able to intervene in its appeal because the appeal was created for charitable purposes, the report says.
It says the commission first became aware of the appeal in 2007, when a complainant alleged that funds raised in response to the 2004 tsunami were sent to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. The report says the radio station gave the commission "assurances and evidence" at the time that this had not happened, and the commission closed its case.
The report says the regulator opened a new investigation into the appeal in November 2010 because of a new complaint that funds had not been applied for the charitable purposes for which they were raised.