Watchdog probes ‘misconduct’ at Naomi Campbell’s charity over concerns about its finances
The charity watchdog has launched a formal investigation into Naomi Campbell’s fashion charity over concerns about its management and finances, it emerged last night.
Fashion For Relief is facing a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission, which will look at possible misconduct and mismanagement.
The foundation was set up by the London-born supermodel, 51, to relieve child poverty and advance health and education around the world.
Charity founder: The charity watchdog has launched a formal investigation into Naomi Campbell’s fashion charity over concerns about its management and finances, it emerged last night
It claims to have raised more than $15million dollars (£11.25million) since its foundation in 2005 – mostly through glitzy fundraising events.
However, The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that the charity spent more than £1.6million on a spectacular fundraising gala in Cannes yet gave only £5,000 to good causes over a 15-month period including the show.
As part of the watchdog’s investigation, Fashion For Relief trustees have been restricted from making some financial transactions ‘to protect the charity’s property’.
Its last set of published accounts revealed large trustee expenses. Bianka Hellmich, a partner and head of international clients at legal firm QCL Associates, was paid £77,000 in consultancy fees and £15,942 in travel expenses.
Mad hatter: Fashion For Relief is facing a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission, which will look at possible misconduct and mismanagement
The previous year, the charity spent £107,000 on trustees’ fees and £23,025 on expenses.
The watchdog’s investigation will consider whether Miss Campbell and fellow trustees ‘have properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law’ and will look at potential mismanagement.
This includes the failure to file statutory annual accounts on time and questions over the financial running of the charity, including payments made to a trustee and the level of charitable expenditure.
The supermodel, who became a mother to a girl this year, is one of three trustees along with Miss Hellmich and Veronica Sylvia Wing Wai Au Chou.
A glamorous event in Cannes in May 2018 to raise money for Time’s Up, an organisation supporting women in the workplace after the #MeToo movement, was attended by celebrities including US heiress Paris Hilton and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s model wife Carla Bruni.
Miss Campbell walked the catwalk with model friends such as Erin O’Connor and Natalia Vodianova.
Accounts lodged with the Charity Commission covering the period from April 2018 to July 2019 show that charges for the event ran to almost £1.5million, with an additional £43,000 spent on a fashion team, £18,000 on an operations director, and more than £57,500 on public relations.
This brought the total expenditure to more than £1.6million.
During the same 15-month period, Fashion For Relief handed just £5,515 to good causes, according to the accounts.
Time’s Up told the Mail on Sunday that three years later it had not received any funds directly from Fashion For Relief since the Cannes event.
In response, the charity insisted that its latest accounts should not be viewed in isolation and later filings would provide a more comprehensive picture.
But the charity’s 2020 accounts are now almost 180 days overdue.
It has only filed its accounts on time once in the past five years, according to the Charity Commission’s online register.
Fashion For Relief has previously said that it does not operate like most charities, instead acting as a ‘third party’ to connect donors with the good causes it works with.
Catwalk queen: The foundation was set up by the London-born supermodel, 51, to relieve child poverty and advance health and education around the world
The charity’s last set of published accounts show that in the year to July 2019 it raised £1.7million, mostly through sponsorships.
The charity was previously the subject of a compliance case since September 2020, which raised ‘a range of regulatory concerns’, including consistent late filing of accounts and lack of evidence to show that conflicts of interest were being managed.
The Charity Commission said it issued trustees with an action plan in March this year but has now escalated the issue into a full inquiry – its most serious level of investigation.
Fashion For Relief has held numerous glamorous fashion galas for its causes. Its first show raised funds for victims of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The charity partnered with Sadiq Khan’s Mayor’s Fund For London in 2019 to provide skills and training to young people from low income backgrounds.
Its website does not reveal how much money was raised at the event but proudly displays media cuttings from Vogue, Elle and other fashion magazines which report how Miss Campbell is ‘saving the world one fashion show at a time’.
A spokesman for Fashion For Relief was unavailable for comment last night.