IF Charity has revealed that its bank account at Al Rayan Bank was blocked from 25 September to 31 December 2020 and was inaccessible to IF or to its accountants.
IF is a UK Charity that delivers aid to Gaza. Its stated mission is “to empower the people of Gaza in their efforts to build strong and resilient communities through poverty relief, education, community development and medical aid.”
IF’s loss of banking services at Al Rayan Bank follows UK Lawyers for Israel’s letters to Lloyds Bank, which dealt with international fund transfers for Al Rayan Bank.
Both this year and last year IF’s auditor could only give it a “qualified audit”. According to the auditor, the reason for the “qualified audit” of IF’s 2020 accounts was: “The Charity is unable to gain access to the records or explanations required to substantiate balances and transactions for this bank account. We also requested direct confirmation from the bank to verify the year-end balance and to ascertain if there were any transactions in the period mentioned above, however this was not provided by the bank.”
The second reason for the qualified audit was that IF received Coronavirus job retention scheme grants of £15,154 during 2020. The auditors say that they have been “unable to verify the employees to whom these salaries were paid” because they “have not been provided with personnel records and other evidence that would support the management’s claim that these employees benefited the charity” and they were “unable to obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to be able to form an opinion as to whether the individuals on payroll were employees of the charity.”
Mr Abdessamed El Haouari, chair of IF’s trustees commented in the Trustee’s report: “Banking remains an issue for those working in Gaza, and although donor support increases during times of acute and reported crisis in Gaza, so too does the politicisation of aid and scrutiny on charities. There is a worrying campaign of harassment against charities working in the occupied territories by anti-Palestinian groups, and this has an impact on services and reputation.”