Britain’s regulator of charity organisations investigated a group seeking “to advance the Sikh religion in the UK” and concluded on Friday its main trustee had used the body as a conduit for immigration fraud to bring Indian nationals to the country.
The Charity Commission removed the Khalsa Missionary Society from its register in February 2016 and has now permanently barred the trustee – identified only as Trustee A in its investigation report – from being involved in any charity organisation.
The Khalsa Missionary Society’s objective was: “To advance the Sikh religion in the UK for the benefit of the public through holding prayer meetings, lectures, public celebration of religious festivals, producing and/or distributing literature on Sikhism to enlighten others about the religion.”
The commission said it was notified in August 2013 by the home office immigration and enforcement criminal investigations team that a probe into the charity had been launched as it was suspected of being abused to allow the illegal entry of Indian nationals into the UK for a fee.
The commission opened a statutory inquiry in September 2014 and found there was only one active trustee in the charity. As a result of its concerns, the commission removed the individual as a trustee in January 2016.
The individual pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to three counts of assisting unlawful immigration between 2011 and 2013, and was sentenced to 27 months in prison on May 16, 2016, the Charity Commission said.
“The inquiry concluded that the trustee used the charity to facilitate immigration fraud. The charity had been used as a conduit for the immigration fraud, which worked by the charity sponsoring individuals as ministers for religion, while funds were circulated through the charity’s bank accounts to give the appearance that the charity was receiving legitimate donations,” the inquiry report said. The inquiry concluded there had been misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity and the trustee had potentially provided false and misleading information to the commission.
Carl Mehta, head of investigations and enforcement, said: “We work closely with law enforcement agencies to prevent and disrupt abuse of charities. In this case we were able to share information with the Home Office immigration and enforcement criminal investigations team and support the successful prosecution of an individual who was benefiting from this disgraceful abuse of charitable status.”