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Claim that Overseas Aid funds ‘misused’

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NEARLY £20,000 of overseas aid money was diverted from the charitable project it was destined for and taken for personal use instead, it has been claimed.

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In May, the Overseas Aid Commission revealed it has suspended funding of a project as the result of whistle-blowing allegations, but few details were released.

It has now given an update in its annual report.

‘In December 2018, the Commission received a whistle-blowing email from somebody connected to an in-country partner of a charity that has been supported by the commission, concerning a project it has been funding in Uganda,’ it said.

The email alleged that the in-country partner had diverted the funds received from the commission and used the money for personal projects.

The allegations related to the first tranche of an award made in 2018, some £19,500.

As well as suspending funding, the concerns were reported to Guernsey Police and the Charity Commission for England and Wales, which regulates the charity concerned.

In response to Guernsey Press questions, the commission said it was still waiting for a response from the UK regulator and would issue a statement once its investigation was complete.

It declined to name the charity, the in-country partner or whether either has received funding in previous years.

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The 2018 annual report indicates that 38 projects linked to Uganda asked for funding and that 10 were approved.

The report only lists eight of those for amounts ranging from £28,433 to £40,000.

A review of the commission’s procedures was carried out after the allegation was made.

It recommended that full details of a charity’s trustees, including their date of birth and family relationships, for both the applicant charity and in-country partner are collected.

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‘The Commission will consider listing the in-country partners in future annual reports,’ it said.

Questioning by the Guernsey Press has also revealed that the 2017 annual report lists in an appendix projects that were actually supported in 2018.

‘While this particular example is a printing error, it is the case that the Commission will often choose to support applications from the same charities in consecutive years.,’ it said.

‘This can happen when the charity has demonstrated that it has a good model (such as for drilling wells or constructing latrines) which can be repeated across different sites; or where Guernsey has supported a good project in one year (such as building a health clinic or repairing some classrooms) and can see that the impact of our investment could be amplified by adding to that project (such as by adding on a maternity ward or extending a school).’

In July, the States agreed an overhaul of the overseas aid budget.

It will gradually increase from the current 0.1% of GDP to 0.2% of GDP by the year 2030.

The Commission’s grant aid budget for 2018 was £2,960,000.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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