The Charity Commission has frozen the bank accounts of an Islamic aid charity after concerns were raised that one of its trustees had charitable funds seized by police while trying to leave the country.
The regulator announced today that it had opened a statutory inquiry into Worldwide Ummah Aid, which was registered by the commission in January 2012 with the objects of providing education for children and general support in disaster areas, including to Syrian refugees. It had an annual income of £51,728 in the year to 31 December 2012.
A statement from the regulator said it opened an inquiry into the charity on 18 August "following concerns that charitable funds had been seized from a charity trustee during a routine check conducted by the Metropolitan Police as the individual left the country.
"At the time of the check a charity trustee gave inconsistent information to the police about the nature of his journey, the amount of funds on his person and its provenance."
The regulator said that it had frozen the charity’s bank accounts "as a temporary and protective measure" and suspended one of the trustees, although it declined to name which one.
There are three trustees for the charity listed on its entry in the commission’s register: Yusef Kenan, Jahmgir Kahn and Zubair Abdul Latif.
The regulator said the inquiry would examine concerns about its management to determine whether it had sufficient financial controls in place to manage any risk to its assets, including the use of cash couriers to transfer charitable funds overseas.
It would then look at transactions between the charity and one of the trustees to determine whether there had been any unauthorised trustee benefits and, if so, the extent of those.
The governance of the charity by the trustees "with specific regard to trustee decision-making and due diligence relating to partner organisations and intermediaries the charity works with" would also be examined, said the regulator.
Kenan told Third Sector that the charity was cooperating with the inquiry, but declined to comment further.