Yorkshire charity hit with spending restrictions during investigation says people it helps will 'suffer'

A West Yorkshire charity which helps people in war-torn countries in the Middle East says some of them will suffer after the Charity Commission imposed restrictions which may prevent it from sending money overseas.

The Olive Grove Foundation

The regulator has opened a statutory inquiry into the Olive Grove Foundation, due to long-standing concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management.

It says members of the Bradford-based charity used a personal bank account to transfer money overseas and there is evidence of “poor governance and poor monitoring of charitable funds”.

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Earlier this month, restrictions which prevent Olive Grove Foundation from transferring funds overseas and withdrawing cash without prior approval from the Charity Commision were imposed, while the regulator investigates the charity’s activities, overseas partnerships and financial controls.

In a statement, the charity said the “premature” inquiry was opened after it offered support to people in Palestine, Jerusalem and Syria.

Chairman Muhammad Bhaiyat said: “The commission has taken out an Order restricting the movement of funds overseas which has stopped our vital work assisting the victims of wars, natural disasters and poverty.

“As a result many of the women, children and men who are reliant on our aid will suffer severe hardship. Despite having no viable evidence the Charity Commission has abused its powers and halted our international operations.

“The alleged evidence that the commission have put forth as reasons for opening a Statutory Inquiry and placing restrictions on the movement of funds have no merit and inshaAllah we are confident that we will succeed in proving this and henceforth have initiated legal action.

“From the inception of Olive Grove Foundation not a single penny has been mismanaged or misused and every donation has reached the intended beneficiary.

“Despite two investigations over a two and a half year period, the Charity Commission have not been able to identify a single instance where charitable funds have been misused by Olive Grove Foundation.”