Regulator shut down education charity that spent £68k outside its objects

Reporting on its investigation into the Aid and Peace Trust, which operates in Bangladesh, the Charity Commission says it spent the money on a TV campaign to raise money for Rohingya refugees and another non-educational campaign

The Charity Commission has shut down an educational charity operating in Bangladesh after finding that it spent £68,000 outside its charitable objects.

The commission opened an investigation in 2013 after concerns were raised that the Aid and Peace Trust was operating outside its charitable objects through a television campaign to raise funds for Rohingya Muslim refugees.

That campaign, and another decision to donate money to a hospital near to the Savar building collapse in Bangladesh, cost the charity £68,000.

The charity’s objects were to advance education in Bangladesh, not to run the television campaign or transfer money to a hospital, the commission said in an inquiry report published on Monday.

The concerns about the television campaign led to an inspection by the regulator of the charity’s financial and decision-making records, which discovered that it did not properly account for the charity’s income and spending.

This included transferring funds to individual bank accounts in Bangladesh, with a lack of clarity about how these funds could be used and no partner charity in Bangladesh, the commission said.

The charity’s trustees were unable to give any assurances to the regulator about how the money was spent, the report concluded.

No annual returns were submitted to the commission by the charity from 2013 onwards, according to the inquiry report.

There was also a failure to consider the potential conflict of interest from having the charity’s de-facto chief executive work for the same television company that ran the charity’s advertising campaign.

Nor was there evidence that the trustees considered any of the risks of running the campaign, in which they partnered with two other charities and a non-charitable political lobbying group.

As a result, the commission managed to ensure a remaining £16,330 of charitable funds were spent according to the charity’s objectives, and the trustees volunteered to not act in a similar capacity for a three-year period.

The charity ceased to be operational in 2014 and was formally dissolved on 15 March 2016.

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