A charity trustee has been sentenced to a 24-month community order and disqualified from trusteeship after stealing £240,000 from his charity.
Mr Ahtiq Raja, the sole trustee of Buckinghamshire-based poverty-relief charity GTC, transferred the money from the charity’s bank account over to his private bank account, before using the funds to purchase a property for his private company.
He was found guilty of theft at Northampton Crown Court and sentenced to a 24-month community order. He has also been automatically disqualified from acting as a trustee or from holding senior management roles in any charity in England and Wales.
The Charity Commission became aware of the theft after launching an investigation into the charity in December 2018 over concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management.
Investigators obtained bank records, where they found the bank transfer had been made.
The inquiry also found poor governance at the charity, which was operating in breach of its governing document. It had just one trustee in the years leading up to the inquiry, meaning there were no other trustees to oversee and assist in decision-making processes or to appropriately manage conflicts of interest.
The regulator said it was also 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.
Mr Raja also failed to comply with a direction under the Charities Act, which required him to attend a meeting and provide information to the Charity Commission.
The inquiry concluded that these failings amounted to misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity. The charity has now been removed from the register.
“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,” Charity Commission head of investigation teams, Amy Spiller said.
“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.”
Full details of the inquiry can be found on GOV.UK