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Watchdog looks into UK charity endorsed by Mehwish Hayat, Amir Khan

UK's Charity Commission says it is looking into 'potential financial concerns' at Penny Appeal, which is endorsed British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan and Pakistani actor Mehwish Hayat

October 12, 2019
Penny Appeal is endorsed by celebrities such as British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan and Pakistani model and actor Mehwish Hayat, and has partnerships with the Department for Education.

LONDON: The Charity Commission has confirmed that it is looking into 'potential financial concerns' at Wakefield's Penny Appeal after a senior figure at the charity attempted a 'coup' while the charity's founder was on a visit to Pakistan with Dragons' Den Star James Caan and actor Mehwish Hayat.

The government department announced that trustees of the charity, which provides aid for crisis-hit countries, had submitted a 'serious incident report'.

Penny Appeal is endorsed by celebrities such as British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan and Pakistani model and actor Mehwish Hayat, and has partnerships with the Department for Education.

Award-winning Hayat was appointed ambassador of Penny Appeal in August this year. She has also announced her participation in next year's London Marathon (2020) to raise funds in aid of Penny Appeal's international education campaign.

Adeem Younis, who founded a leading website for single Muslims, was in Pakistan last month with James Caan and Mehwish Hayat for the 'launch' of various projects. It is understood that at least two senior executives of the charity have rowed with each other regularly in recent months over finances, spending, and the contracts signed involving celebrities.

One executive sacked another while he was on his way back from Pakistan last month, said a source in the charity. He added that not only locks inside the charity's headquarters were changed but expensive items were taken away by one of the executives.

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When Adeem Younis landed at Heathrow airport from Pakistan he learned that he has been suspended from his role in an unconstitutional manner, said the source.

A spokesman of the Charity Commission said: "We are currently assessing this information and have contacted the trustees for further information. While this is ongoing, we are unable to comment further."

It was reported that the headquarter of the charity in Wakefield was raided, but a spokesman of the charity quashed such rumours and denied any raid.

The spokesman said: "Penny Appeal is unable to comment at this stage as regards a self-referral made to the Charity Commission.

"An internal investigation has yet to report to the board of trustees, and any comment at this stage will prejudice the inquiry. At this stage, the board can confirm there is no significant risk to existing operations. We have been made aware that messages are circulating on social media stating that Penny Appeal have been the subject of regulatory action including a raid on our offices."

"The allegations are untrue. Penny Appeal continues to operate as usual and is not the subject of regulatory intervention nor has there been a raid at our offices."

The charity was set up in 2009 by entrepreneur Adeem Younis. The charity claims that it offers assistance for providing food, water, and medical supplies to countries across the world. In an interview few months ago, Adeem Younis announced that he will be building a hospital near Rawalpindi for the needy and blind but work on that project has not started yet.

The charity has a multi-million-pound turnover every year and employs hundreds of staff.

Under the Charities Act, it is the legal obligation of trustees to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission.

According to the Charity Commission, the main categories of reportable incidents are: protecting people and safeguarding incidents—incidents that have resulted in or risk significant harm to beneficiaries and other people who come into contact with the charity through its work; financial crimes—fraud, theft, cyber-crime and money laundering; links to terrorism or extremism, including 'proscribed' (or banned) organisations, individuals subject to an asset freeze, or kidnapping of staff; and significant data breaches/losses or incidents involving partners that materially affect the charity.

According to the Charity Commission, Penny Appeal's income for the financial year ending April 2018 was £24.6m, 75 percent of which it spent on charitable activities.