The Charity Commission has blocked major fundraising platforms from passing money to a charity after uncovering an accounting discrepancy of more than £200,000.
The regulator said today it had opened a statutory inquiry into the JELA Foundation, which has objects of improving the lives of people in Haiti and those of Haitian descent living in the UK through education and the promotion of good health.
The commission said it had identified a discrepancy of more than £200,000 between what was declared in the charity’s annual returns for the past five years and bank transactions carried out over the same period.
The regulator said it was also concerned about the possible misapplication of charitable funds and personal benefit after discovering repeated payments made several times a month over a number of years to one of the charity’s trustees and "a pattern of donation payments totalling over £700,000 from individuals to the charity, including two trustees and a potentially connected party".
The regulator did not identify any of the trustees in question.
The commission said it had used its powers to freeze the charity’s bank accounts and prohibited three major online fundraising platforms used by the charity from passing on the funds without the regulator’s approval.
The charity’s trustees have also been forbidden from carrying out any further fundraising with alternative online platforms.
The regulator said its inquiry would examine issues including whether the charity’s trustees had "knowingly or recklessly provided the commission with information which is false or misleading", the charity’s financial controls and whether its funds had been properly spent and could be accounted for.
The charity’s most recent accounts show it had an income of £165,214 and spending of £182,053 for the year to the end of February 2018.
Pedro Okojie, one of the charity’s trustees, told Third Sector he was unable to comment.