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Charity Commission calls on Stone King to manage allegedly corrupt charity

Al-Fatiha Global under scrutiny following supposed involvement in support for Syrian militants

12 January 2015

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Al-Fatiha Global under scrutiny following supposed involvement in support for Syrian militants

The Charity Commission has appointed a founding partner from Stone King as interim manager of Al-Fatiha Global (AFG) as part of the commission's investigation into the Syrian aid organisation.

The Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into AFG early last year following a number of allegations made in the media about the charity which was established to provide humanitarian aid to refugees in and from Syria.

Michael King, pictured, a former chairman of Stone King and now a consultant in the firm's charity and social enterprise team, is tasked with improving the management and administration of the charity so it can be compliant with charity law and more effective in the delivery of its work. King will work alongside the charity's current trustees who will remain in their posts.

Head of Stone King's charity and social enterprise team, Jonathan Burchfield commented: "This is the seventh time that the commission has appointed a legal adviser from Stone King to step in and manage a charity that is encountering problems and the appointment is testimony to our expertise in providing practical support to the Charity Commission and to our ability to work with a wide range of charities."

The Midlands-based charity is currently under investigation following allegations that some within it had been involved in supporting fighters in Syria.

The regulator opened an investigation in March after a story from The Sun newspaper alleged that the charity's chief executive, Adniel Ali, was in Syria supporting rebel fighters. AFG has denied any involvement in the fighting.

The AFG has since suspended Ali, who they claim was just a volunteer for the charity, but have also criticised the commission for its statutory inquiry. In May the charity launched an appeal to the regulator's decision to hold an inquiry.

In November, The Telegraph reported that AFG was among several groups currently under investigation for supposedly aiding Syrian militants through the use of the Gift Aid system to claim large sums from the public purse.

Unpublished accounts, seen by the newspaper, show AFG's donation income increased from £4,038 in 2012 to £1.2m in 2013. Auditors refused to approve the accounts as "sufficient records were not kept" of "goods distributed to beneficiaries in Syria".

The Telegraph had suggested that AFG had received at least £20,000 from the government under the Gift Aid scheme which allows participating charities to claim back tax paid by donors.

For any donation given under Gift Aid, a charity is paid a minimum of a 25 per cent top-up by the government.

This article first appeared in PCA's sister publication, Solicitors Journal

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