Refugee Charity Used to Fraud Millions

  • The Charity Commission found a refugee and asylum seeker housing association to be using it to steal and laundering money.

    The report found that Astonbrook Housing Association was used to fraud £1.8 million from the UK Border Agency and Birmingham Council.

    The Charity Commission published its inquiry into the housing association last Thursday and detailed the ‘appalling abuse' by staff and trustees.

    The case involved 1,800 fraudulent payments, fictitious invoices, ghost employees and charity money being paid to individuals at the charity, their family members or companies connected to them.

    While it was set up to provide housing support to around 3,500 refugees and asylum seekers in the West Midlands, Wales and the South West of England, its owners were using the organisation to steal and launder £1.8 million from the UK Border Agency and Birmingham Council. The police believed the true total of the public funds defrauded could be up to £6 million.

    The charity went into liquidation in 2009 after its contractual agreements could no longer be met, however all refugees and asylum seekers in its care were re-housed.

    Michelle Russell, Charity Commission investigation head, said:

    This case involved the appalling abuse of a charity that provided vital services to many vulnerable people.

    Abuses of this kind against charity are always unacceptable - when they put people at risk and are as systematic and extensive as those uncovered here, they are frankly unforgivable.

    Read full article by Inside Housing, 03/04/13.



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