Charity’s links to Qatar raised fears

The charities watchdog issued a warning about the “independence” of a British charity over its ties to a Qatari group later designated as a terror organisation by its Gulf neighbours, The Telegraph can disclose.

The Charity Commission raised concerns about the “independence” of Qatar Charity UK, which hands out millions of pounds to mosques and other organisations across Britain.

The regulator intervened four years ago after it discovered that 98 per cent of the body’s funding was coming from Doha-based Qatar Charity Qatar (QCQ), with the UK body funding projects “identified by QCQ”.

The warning is revealed in a compliance report, seen by this newspaper, which shows that the watchdog also expressed concern that all of the UK charity’s trustees in 2015 were linked to the QCQ. Three were paid by the Doha-based body. QCQ was one of a dozen organisations Saudi Arabia and its allies claimed were involved in terrorism in 2017.

Qatar Charity UK changed its name later that year to the Nectar Trust. But accounts show it received £28m from QCQ in 2017, before donations dropped sharply.

The Charity Commission report also points out that the Israeli government banned QCQ as it was alleged to be part of the Union of Good “reported to provide support to Hamas”.

All of the Nectar Trust’s trustees have since stood down, with three new individuals appointed last year.

This newspaper revealed in 2017 that the charity was run by a former Qatari official who founded a website that instructed Muslims to hate Jews and Christians.

Yousef al-Kuwari quit as chief executive in May 2018. However he remains chief executive of QCQ, which was designated a proscribed organisation by the Gulf states in 2017. Yousuf Al-Hammadi, his successor as Nectar Trust chief executive, is one of his former advisers.

In a compliance report following an inspection of the charity in November 2015, the Charity Commission stated that its “main sources of concern” included that “in 2014 the Charity received £451,605 (98 per cent) of its income from the Qatari-registered charity Qatar Charity Qatar (‘QCQ’) and three of the seven trustees of the Charity are directors or employees of QCQ. The Commission’s records indicate that the remaining four trustees are also linked with QCQ as their registered addresses were that of QCQ.”

“This arrangement raises regulatory concerns about the Charity’s independence, and the ability of the Charity’s trustees to make independent decisions, free from conflicts of interest and/or loyalty that are solely in the best interests of the Charity … separate from QCQ.”

The report adds: “The trustees who are employed by or consult with QCQ have a conflict of loyalty; although they do not stand to personally benefit from decisions made in their role they have loyalty to another organisation (QCQ) as well as to the Charity.”

It was also concerned about “allegations linking QCQ to terrorist financing”.

The Telegraph revealed in 2017 that one of the projects being bankrolled by Qatar Charity UK was the construction of a mosque in Sheffield overseen by a Kuwaiti official who claimed Jews orchestrated the September 11 attacks. The official subsequently ceased to be a director of the mosque.

According to the Charity Commission report, Qatar Charity UK officials said that any projects suggested by QCQ were “considered under the same process as any other proposal”.

The Nectar Trust trustees have declined to answer questions from this newspaper about the commission’s concerns. A spokesman said they had “nothing further to add to what the Charity Commission have stated in their response to you.”

QCQ describes itself as a “leading torch in the humanitarian and charitable fields” that has spent more than $1 billion (£823 million) helping 110 million people across the world.

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