Watchdog investigates ‘misconduct’ at Naomi Campbell’s charity over finance concerns

The charity watchdog has launched a formal investigation into Naomi Campbell’s fashion charity over management and finance concerns, it emerged last night.

Fashion For Relief faces a legal investigation by the Charity Commission, which will investigate possible misconduct and mismanagement.

The foundation was founded by London-born supermodel 51 to alleviate child poverty and advance healthcare and education around the world.

Charity founder: The charity watchdog has launched a formal investigation into Naomi Campbell’s fashion charity over management and finance concerns, it emerged last night

It claims to have raised more than $15 million dollars (£11.25 million) since its inception in 2005 – mainly through glitzy fundraising events.

However, The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that the charity spent more than £1.6 million on a spectacular fundraising gala in Cannes, but gave just £5,000 to charity over a 15-month period, including the show.

As part of the watchdog’s investigation, Fashion For Relief administrators have been restricted from conducting some financial transactions “to protect the charity’s property.”

The latest batch of bills published revealed high costs for trustees. Bianka Hellmich, a partner and head of international clients at law firm QCL Associates, was paid £77,000 in consultancy fees and £15,942 in travel expenses.

Mad Hatter: Fashion For Relief faces legal investigation by the Charity Commission, which will investigate possible misconduct and mismanagement

Mad Hatter: Fashion For Relief faces legal investigation by the Charity Commission, which will investigate possible misconduct and mismanagement

The previous year, the charity spent £107,000 on trustee fees and £23,025 on expenses.

The watchdog’s investigation will determine whether Miss Campbell and fellow administrators have “properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under the charitable law” and will look for possible mismanagement.

This includes failing to file statutory financial statements on a timely basis and questions about the charity’s financial functioning, including payments to a trustee and the level of charitable spending.

The supermodel, who gave birth 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 organization supporting women in the workplace after the #MeToo movement, was attended by celebrities, including American heiress Paris Hilton and the model wife of the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni.

Miss Campbell walked the runway with model friends like Erin O’Connor and Natalia Vodianova.

Bills filed with the Charity Commission for the period from April 2018 to July 2019 show that the cost of the event was close to £1.5 million, with an additional £43,000 spent on a fashion team, £18,000 on an operations director and over £57,500 on public relations.

This brought the total expenditure to over £1.6 million.

Over the same 15-month period, Fashion For Relief donated just £5,515 to charities, according to the accounts.

Time’s Up told the Mail on Sunday that it had not received any money directly from Fashion For Relief three years later since the Cannes event.

In response, the charity insisted that the latest bills should not be looked at in isolation and that subsequent submissions should provide a more comprehensive picture.

But the charity’s bills for 2020 are now nearly 180 days late.

According to the Charity Commission’s online registry, it has only filed its accounts on time once in the past five years.

Fashion For Relief has previously said that it doesn’t operate like most charities, but acts as a “third party” to connect donors with the charities it works with.

Catwalk Queen: The foundation was founded by London-born supermodel, 51, to alleviate child poverty and promote health and education around the world

Catwalk Queen: The foundation was founded by London-born supermodel, 51, to alleviate child poverty and promote health and education around the world

The charity’s latest batch of published accounts shows it raised £1.7million in the year to July 2019, mainly through sponsorships.

The charity had previously been the subject of a compliance case since September 2020, which raised ‘a range of regulatory concerns’, including consistently late submissions of bills and lack of evidence to show conflicts of interest were managed.

The Charity Commission said it issued an action plan to trustees in March this year, but has now escalated the matter to a full investigation — the most serious level of investigation.

Fashion For Relief has held countless glamorous fashion galas for its causes. The first show raised money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans.

The charity partnered with Sadiq Khan’s Mayor’s Fund For London in 2019 to provide skills and training to low-income young people.

The website does not reveal how much money was raised during the event, but proudly features media clippings from Vogue, Elle and other fashion magazines reporting how Miss Campbell is ‘saving the world one fashion show at a time’.

A spokesperson for Fashion For Relief could not be reached for comment last night.

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