Tom Henderson, the founder and former chief executive of the aid charity ShelterBox, is understood to have been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money-laundering offences.
Henderson is understood to have been one of three men arrested as part of a continuing fraud inquiry at the charity.
Devon and Cornwall Police said in a statement that a 62-year-old man from Helston, a 33-year-old man from Hayle and a 40-year-old man from Beaminster in Dorset have been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering offences. The three men have been released on bail until December.
Three properties where the arrests took place have also been searched and items removed for analysis by detectives from the police’s Economic Crime Unit, the police said.
Henderson founded ShelterBox in 2000 but left his post as chief executive of the charity in July 2012 after a row about an allegation that he tried to place an order worth £650,000 with a company connected to his son John. He was dismissed for gross misconduct, but is taking ShelterBox to an employment tribunal.
In April, Henderson announced that he had set up a new charity, Shelter for Humanity, that will help people around the world affected by disasters.
Henderson could not be reached for comment.
ShelterBox said in statement that it had been made aware by Devon and Cornwall Police that a former member of its staff has been arrested as part of investigations into allegations of fraud and money laundering offences.
"The employee in question was dismissed from his role with ShelterBox in July 2012 and is no longer connected with the charity," the statement said. "We are confident that his arrest is in no way related to ShelterBox’s current activities. ShelterBox is cooperating fully with Devon and Cornwall Police in support of their enquiries."