An investigation into a homeless charity in the United Kingdom revealed financial mismanagement as well as evidence that the charity’s funds were used to benefit its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and trustees, as per a report in the Independent. The former CEO spent thousands of pounds on luxury travel, meals and watches.
According to a Charity Commission inquiry, Lee Dribben, former CEO of the Ashley Foundation, used charity funds to purchase a surveillance system. The Ashley Foundation works to provide accommodation and support to ‘homeless individuals in need’, as per their website. The regulator states that there was “serious financial mismanagement” and charity funds were used to benefit Mr Dribben and former trustees.
As per a press release, the investigation also discovered that Mr Dribben spent charity funds on luxury travel and meals, including over 3000 pounds (Rs 2.9 lakh) on a three-night trip to London that included first-class travel and meals at Le Caprice and the Wolseley Hotel. On the same trip, 45 pounds (Rs 4,400) was claimed for a bottle of wine at a Covent Garden restaurant.
“Charity money was also inappropriately spent on luxury items including Apple Watches, flat screen TVs and silk sheets, which the former CEO claimed were gifts for associates,” it was further stated. He also purchased a Spymaster tracking system, which was used to monitor people during contract negotiations with the charity. The inquiry also discovered that charity funds were used to repair and maintain personal properties owned by Mr Dribben and his son Ashley, a former trustee.
Another former trustee, David Kam, signed blank cheques to be drawn on the charity’s bank account, which meant he had no idea how much would be paid or to whom, according to the Independent.
According to the Charity Commission, this is inappropriate and “covert activity is unacceptable” for a charity. It bars Mr Dribben and his son Ashley Dribben from charity trusteeships and senior management for 15 years, as well as former charity chair David Kam for ten years.
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