Press release: New charity investigation: Urban Relief

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into Urban Relief, registered charity number 1114537. The inquiry was opened on 3 February 2015.

The charity has objects to relieve poverty and financial hardship among West African people by providing food, clothing, housing and other services.

The inquiry was opened following the conviction of one of the trustees of the charity for laundering funds from the proceeds of crime through the charity.

In addition to the concerns raised by the conviction, the commission undertook a number of enquiries into the charity’s finances, which identified that the charity’s income and expenditure reported by the trustees in the charity’s annual returns did not match the amount of funds that flowed through the charity’s bank account.

The inquiry is examining a number of issues which are of serious regulatory concern to the commission relating to the administration and financial management of the Charity by its trustees. These include whether:

  • charitable funds have been misapplied for non-charitable purposes

  • the trustees are able to properly account for the charity’s income and expenditure

  • the trustees have fulfilled their legal duties and responsibilities to safeguard the charity’s property and assets including whether they have correctly exercised their legal duty of prudence

The scope of the investigation into the charity will examine the governance, management and administration of the charity by the trustees, whether the charity’s decision making processes are adequate, the financial controls, management and application of charitable funds and whether there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees. It will also consider whether remedial regulatory action is necessary.

Given the nature of the concerns, the commission took immediate and appropriate steps to ensure that any property owned by the charity was safeguarded.

The commission stresses that opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrong doing. The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether there has been misconduct and/or mismanagement; establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; decide what action needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its legal powers to do so.

It is the commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries by the commission are available on its website.

The charity’s details can be viewed on the commission’s online charity search tool.



Notes to Editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.

  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
    • Charities know what they have to do
    • The public know what charities do
    • Charities are held to account
  3. Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the commission access to a range of protective and remedial powers.

  4. The commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.

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