Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham charity Amirah Foundation folds amid financial review

Shaz Manir
Image caption The Amirah Foundation was founded by Shaz Manir in 2011 to support vulnerable women

A charity supporting domestic violence victims has collapsed amid a probe into alleged financial irregularities.

Trustees of Birmingham-based Amirah Foundation began an internal review when a whistleblower spotted "unusual transactions" last November.

Chief executive Shaz Manir was suspended and trustee Nurjahan Khatun criticised. They have not commented.

The charity contacted police then become insolvent earlier this year as it was unable to secure future funding.

Hundreds of women had been helped by the Amirah Foundation in Sparkbrook since it opened in 2011.

It said the Penny Appeal would take over its work.

The trustees started their review after a woman working at the charity saw bank statements she claimed showed unusually large sums apparently for rental payments.

Image caption Whistleblower Saraya said her intention was to do "what I felt was right"

Saraya, who only wanted to give her first name, said: "It was never my intention to become a whistleblower.

"My intention was to do what I felt was right and that's what I've done."

One former employee claims he was sacked after raising concerns with Ms Manir about the charity's financial dealings.

Image caption Imran Rashid claims the chief executive was "paranoid"

Imran Rashid, who had worked as a graphic designer since 2014, said: "She was adamant that I had embedded microphones and cameras into her desk... to [the] point where she refused to sit at her desk.

"That's how paranoid she was, that you know someone was basically trying to get information out of her."

Financial documents from 2015, the last provided for the charity, show it had an income for that year of £253,009 from donations, gift aid and grants.

Initial findings by the trustees say Ms Manir "on occasion paid herself a full wage more than once in a month".

They also say money was still being paid to a company registered in the name of Ms Khatun, chairwoman of trustees, "two years after it was dissolved".

Trustee Farzan Ahmed said: "I should have maybe asked more stronger questions, but I think the questions that I did ask were questions around accountability.

"What you've got to remember is that when this information has come to light I have gone to the police."

Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption The charity's trustees were unable to secure its future and it entered insolvency

The board of trustees reported the allegations to the Charity Commission, the Big Lottery Fund, police and Action Fraud.

Action Fraud has referred the case to the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

The Charity Commission said it was working with the trustees, but was unable to comment further and the Big Lottery Fund said it was investigating allegations.

The Amirah Foundation continued to provide services until the end of last year but the trustees said it was unable to secure the future of the charity and it had entered insolvency.

The trustees said neither women co-operated with its review and the BBC has made several attempts to contact both women for comment.

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