A Charity Commission inquiry into the Busoga Association has found “serious mismanagement and/or misconduct” by the trustees and CEO of the charity, who has since been disqualified.
Busoga Association was founded to support the relief of poverty worldwide, with a particular focus on the Busoga area in Uganda.
The Commission opened an inquiry following a complaint from the UK-based funder of the charity, who found that not all of £767,000 donated to the charity could be adequately accounted for.
Trustees refused to meet with the regulator, but an inspection of all the charity’s books and records revealed “serious accounting faults”.
The inquiry found that the trustees put the charity’s assets at risk and allowed the charity to be run by the CEO, who acted as a de facto trustee, without sufficient oversight. The regulator found that the CEO used the charity’s funds “as he saw fit”.
Accounting records were inadequate, so it was not possible to determine how all of the charitable funds had been spent. However, it was apparent that the day-to-day running of the charity was undertaken by the CEO from 2002. He also set his own salary without any consultation or approval from the trustees.
Decisions made solely by the CEO included a payment of £50,000 of restricted charitable funds towards a private consultancy firm, without consultation with or oversight from the trustees.
He also submitted accounts to the Commission which had not been independently examined, but purported to be.
Due to his actions, the CEO has been disqualified from acting as a trustee and from holding any office or employment with senior management functions for 10 years and secured a signed voluntary undertaking that a former trustee would not act as trustee for five years.
The inquiry also took protective action to freeze the charity’s bank account to prevent the further misuse of funds.
Amy Spiller, head of investigations team, at the Charity Commission said: “Charities hold special status in our society and trustees, as the custodians of their charity, should reflect this responsibility in their behaviour and attitude, ensuring they a ct to advance their charity’s mission and purpose, and never their own self interest.
“The trustees of Busoga Association (UK) failed to protect their charity, allowing their CEO to use the charity for his own agenda. This was a terrible abuse of charity on his part and a complete failure by the other trustees to hold him to account. The CEO responsible has been rightly disqualified.”
The charity was removed by the Commission from the register of charities on 6 October 2015 as it had ceased to operate.