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UK Charities Commission finds 'no evidence of fraud or corruption' at Didier Drogba Foundation

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But the Foundation could use improvement in governance, reporting, and transparency.

This post has been updated with the Charities Commission report's full findings.

You might recall from way back in April a story in the Daily Mail that accused the Didier Drogba Foundation of fraud, claiming that essentially none of the £1.7m raised through donations by various celebrities and sports stars (including Frank Lampard and John Terry) had reached its intended purpose.  The Mail claimed that barely £14k was actually put towards good causes, the rest spent on whatever else or not spent at all.

In the wake of the Mail's report, which was strongly denied by Didier himself in a statement that also threatened legal action, the UK Charities Commission launched a probe into the England-registered Foundation.  After a seven-month investigation, they have announced their results.

"We have been able to satisfy our most serious concerns in relation to the charity by confirming that funds have not been misapplied and that all funds raised in the English charity's name have been held by the English charity. We are also able to confirm that we found no evidence of fraud or corruption on behalf of the charity."

-Charities Commission Report 2/12/16

Drogba, who's received plenty of recognition over the years for his charitable activities, also released a statement via his PR company, in which he stated his intent to seek an apology and damages from the Mail's libelous claims.

"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."

-Didier Drogba

Dider Drogba, still a hero.

That said, the Charities Commission's full report (i.e. beyond just what was sent out by the PR company) paints a less than ideal picture and does warn the Foundation to put its house in order and to start putting the funds raised into proper action.  (And thus, the Mail claimed victory.)

The Commission found failures in the charity's governance, with poor record keeping and accounts that did not meet regulations. However it can also confirm that despite poor governance, there was no evidence of fraud or corruption on behalf of the charity.

Funds had been raised at a number of events in the UK for a hospital project in the Ivory Coast, but the charity had not yet spent any of the funds on charitable activity. The trustees said this was due to the political situation in the Ivory Coast but did not explain this to donors adequately. The Commission considers that donors will have expected their donations to have been used for charitable purposes, not accumulated in a bank account.

The Commission was satisfied that funds had not been misapplied and there was no evidence of fraud or corruption. However, the Commission has issued the charity with an action plan to ensure that the outstanding concerns, particularly with regard to transparency to donors and the public, are addressed by the charity's trustees. The Commission will follow up with the charity to ensure that it is implemented.

-Charities Commission