The charity of former Chelsea FC star Didier Drogba has been cleared of financial wrongdoing and corruption, but was found to engage in activities which could undermine the public’s trust in charities, a watchdog has ruled.
The Charity Commission of England and Wales carried out a seven-month investigation into The Didier Drogba Foundation after investigative reporters from the Daily Mail previously delved into the charity’s operations.
The investigation was launched after reporters found that less than 1% of the £1.7m ($2.1) raised by the charity actually went to the causes they advocated for.
In a report released by the Charity Commission on Friday (2 November), they confirmed no fraud, corruption or misappropriation of funds had taken place, but did raise a number of concerns.
The report said: “We found that the financial records provided by the bank did not support the level of charitable activity claimed to have been undertaken by the charity in its accounts and published material.
“We therefore, at a regulatory meeting, questioned trustees of the charity regarding the discrepancies between the charitable activity claimed to have been carried out and the (lack of) spending by the English charity.”
As a result, the commission discovered that another charity registered in the Ivory Coast under Drogba’s name had taken up the work that the money in the English charity was raised for.
The commission added: “We found that the operation of this charity and the NGO registered in the Ivory Coast appear to not to have been adequately separated.
“There did not appear to have been a sufficiently clear distinction between the English charity and the Ivory Coast Foundation when money was solicited, particularly at the UK fundraising events but also online.”
The report also said: “We found that, because of the lack of distinction between the two entities, donors to the English charity may also have been misled about the activities of the charity they were supporting.
“This is because the impression was given that the English charity had financed the activities of the Ivory Coast Foundation, which is clearly not the case. This could affect the public’s trust and confidence in the English charity.”
The commission also upheld the Daily Mail’s finding that money raised by the charity was spent on lavish charity balls, and incorrectly reported the spending as “charitable activities” rather than “fundraising costs”.
It further added that the donors to the Didier Drogba Foundation, which are said to include Roman Abramovich, would have expected the money raised to be spent on charitable activities, rather than sit in bank accounts as they did.
Despite the commission’s findings, Drogba, now at Canadian Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact, called for the Daily Mail to apologise.
In a statement sent to IBTimes UK, Drogba said: “The Charities Commission has today confirmed after a seven-month investigation, that no funds have been misapplied by my foundation, and that there has been no financial wrongdoing, no fraud and no corruption.
“I am pleased that this supports what we always said from the start which is that the claims made by the Daily Mail back in April were entirely false. I have instructed my lawyers to seek a full apology and damages to be paid to my foundation from the Daily Mail.”
Source : IBtimes