Article 25, the charity which designs, builds, and manages projects to provide buildings for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, have announced that late last month "the Managing Director [...] was made aware by its bank of irregular account activity." They have stated that a full investigation was immediately launched and the trustees have since "uncovered what appears to be a systematic falsification of financial statements that have hidden multiple unapproved payments, which are believed to be in excess of £200,000" (€280,000 or $310,000 USD). They have announced that William Golding, the office manager and book keeper, "was absent on Monday June 29 and has been uncontactable since then."
It is with the very deepest regret that the Trustees have had to make the decision to appoint an insolvency expert to guide Article 25 through the coming weeks as insufficient funds are currently available to meet existing liabilities.
Sunand Prasad, chairman of the charity, has said:
Article 25 is a charity that belongs to us all and we now need to fight for its survival. Countless practices and individual in the UK have helped in some way over the last ten years to make Article 25 the leading organisation of its type anywhere in the world. What has happened is a particularly bitter blow as Article 25 is currently poised to work on some of the most important projects in its history. The current circumstance will be of concern to every person who has helped us raise money, our staff and volunteers who give their all in their shared endeavour to improve lives and the thousands of people whose potential access to basic accommodation for health or education is now in jeopardy.
The trustees "are determined to do what they can to avoid the liquidation of Article 25 and in the last week have mounted a rescue campaign to raise £130,000 by Friday 10th July 2015. So far £110,000 has already been pledged to save the charity."
Please call 0044 (0)20 3197 9800 (UK) to discuss a pledge of support.
The charity commission have been notified and the Metropolitan Police have confirmed that the case has been logged as a crime: "we can confirm that police in Tower Hamlets are investigating an allegation of theft by an employee at a charity based in Canada Square, E14 which was reported on Wednesday July 1. Enquiries are ongoing" (via BDOnline).
On the 15th July 2015 the trustees announced that thanks to pledges the target of £130,000 has been reached, "enabling the charity to continue its work around the world including current projects in Myanmar, Haiti and Nepal."
Sunand Prasad said: "There has been a truly magnificent, and very moving, response to our approaches to architects, engineers and the wider industry to pledge funds to enable Article 25 to survive. I cannot thank them enough for their solidarity, support and generosity. Having hit the target and decided to continue with our work with renewed vigour we will also take steps to ensure that Article 25's financial controls and procedures are the best in the charity sector which is so vulnerable to theft and fraud."
According to the Architects' Journal "a 47-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the" financial irregularities.