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Poverty relief charity disqualified after stealing over £200,000

Buckinghamshire-based charity, GTC, has been removed from the register of charities, after it was found that around £240,000 was stolen by the trustee.

Poverty relief charity disqualified after stealing over £200,000
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • June 03, 2020
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GTC has been removed from the register of charities, and its sole trustee has been disqualified from charity trusteeship, after the Charity Commission found that around £240,000 was stolen by the trustee. 

The regulator launched its probe into GTC in December 2018, over concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management. The charity’s purpose was to relieve poverty in the UK, mainly in the area around Aylesbury.

Investigators used legal powers to obtain bank records and established that around £240,000 (the majority of which had been mistakenly paid to the charity by a third party) was transferred from the charity’s bank account to the trustee’s private bank account. The funds had then been used to purchase a property that was held in the name of a private company of which the same individual was the sole director and the sole shareholder.

The funds have now been repaid to the third party, the Charity Commission confirmed. 

The inquiry also found poor governance at the charity which was operating in breach of its governing document.

Moreover, the Commission was concerned by delays, gaps and a lack of clarity in the charity’s annual accounts submitted to the regulator, some of which were not compliant with the charity accounting framework.

"Charity represents the best of human characteristics – that’s why the behaviour of charities matter. This charity was set up to improve the lives of people suffering financial hardship, but sadly this individual betrayed those good intentions," said Amy Spiller, head of investigation teams at the Charity Commission.

"Our investigation uncovered appalling behaviour by someone who was in a position of trust, and it is right that they have been held to account for their actions. This case also exposed what can go wrong when there is a lack of oversight and poor governance within a charity."

On 31 October 2019, the trustee, Ahtiq Raja, was found guilty of theft at Northampton Crown Court and was later sentenced to a 24-month community order. As a result of his conviction, he is now automatically disqualified from acting as a trustee or from holding a senior management role in any charity in England and Wales.

The charity no longer operates and was removed from the register of charities on 9 April 2020.

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