Friday, 10 February 2012

AWEMA: the latest

Review and evaluation commissioned by Welsh Government of AWEMA which concluded that the organisation should have no new money and as principal funders the Assembly must apply more stringent scrutiny and develop raised expectations of AWEMA’s ability to deliver.
2 July  2007
The acting chairman of Awema, Mr PK Verma, resigned, together with two other trustees when attempts by him to call a special meeting of Awema’s trustees to discuss the remuneration of Naz Malik had been thwarted. His concern was that authorisation of salary and pension increases that had never been before the board.
July 2011
Annual General Meeting since then 7 Trustees from the management board have resigned.
12  December 2011
Report to AWEMA Trustees by Dr Paul Dunn outlining the findings of an investigation into allegations made against AWEMA’s Chief Executive Naz Malik
16 December 2011
Extraordinary General Meeting in which a new Chair is elected, namely Dr Rita Austin
19 December 2011
A Disciplinary Panel consisting of Chair and 2 Trustees convened to consider allegations against CEO they conclude there were areas of concern and impose three disciplinary sanctions. 
The first a written warning in respect of cash “floats” construed to be loans. The panel regarded the circumstances surrounding the matter as gross misconduct. 
Secondly, oral warning in respect of salary awards to his daughter. (His daughter’s salary was £20,469 and increased several times to the current level of £50,052)
Thirdly, an oral warning in respect of the accounting treatment of life assurance payments.
30 December 2011
Missed deadline for registering accounts with Companies House
10 January 2012 
Trustees agree to the terms of reference of review 
12 January 2012
AWEMA’s Finance Director suspended
31January 2012
Deadline missed for registering accounts with Charity Commission
9 February 2012
Joint report by Welsh Government and Big Lottery Fund published recommending a stop on cash to the organisation.
9 February 2012
Jane Hutt Equalities Minister pulls plug on AWEMA funding and announces a full independent review of the history of the funding of AWEMA by the Welsh Government.

9 February 2012
Labour Party make a statement regarding  AWEMA that they’ve suspended both Naz and Tegwyn Malik from the party pending the outcome of an internal enquiry.

Looking at the time line of events in AWEMA show that the organisation has had a troubled history. But despite this public bodies have continued to fund  the organisation. The review set up by Jane Hutt must address the question why? 
But of more immediate concern is the response of the organisation to yesterday’s announcement of the cash being stopped. Dr Rita Austin and trustees and the Chief Executive will manage an orderly exit for the organisation. 
It is normal in similar circumstances for those that have had concerns raised about their behaviour to be suspended while such matters are looked into. The government auditors that prepared, yesterdays report complained that their investigations had “been hampered” by the absence of key documentation. 

If further enquiries are going to be made into the organisation by other authorities such as the Charity Commission and the Police as seems likely, then surely the right and proper thing to do is to suspend the Chief Executive. 
It’s a nonsense to leave him in charge of the exit. If the Board of Trustees can't see this and act, then the Charity Commissioners should intervene, and soon.
Late Addition
Another date can now be added to the AWEMA time line, the announcement of the dismissal of the Chief Executive and the Finance officer. The following was posted on the AWEMA web site by the Chair Rita Austin

"Following the Welsh Government Internal Audit Services Report and the Minister’s Written Statement of 9 February 2012 terminating all grants of public funds to AWEMA, the AWEMA Board has taken the following decisions: 
  • To summarily dismiss with immediate effect the Chief Executive Officer and the Finance Director
  • To appoint in due course an insolvency practitioner as the company’s administrator to take over control of AWEMA’s business and assets from the charity trustees and to close the business
The AWEMA Board would like to thank its staff for the dedicated service they have provided to several hundred participants registered with European funded AWEMA managed projects in Swansea and surrounding local authority areas, and in North Wales, especially in these last difficult weeks. Staff members are in active contact with participants and will do their best to ensure that support services to them continue through other means.
The AWEMA Board is resolved to provide a proper duty of care towards our staff as AWEMA moves towards closure, and is taking all necessary steps to do so.
Finally, the AWEMA Board wishes to acknowledge the gravity of the matters brought to public attention in the WG Internal Audit Services report. Clearly there have been serious failings in the effectiveness of governance and financial management within AWEMA upon which the Welsh Government has acted, and upon which, in consequence, the AWEMA Board now act, with all due speed, one week later.
But the defects and deficiencies brought to light at AWEMA should not be seen as defining features of the charitable sector as a whole in Wales, or as characteristic of the devoted work of minority ethnic voluntary and community groups in Wales. Such assumptions would be undeserved. It is the fervent hope of the AWEMA Board that the swift and decisive action it has taken will successfully confine the reputational damage to AWEMA alone, so that the charitable and voluntary sector more widely in Wales does not suffer any collateral damage.
The AWEMA Board will not be making any further public comment on this matter."


  1. It's not the 'Welsh Government' it's the Welsh Labour party.

    Naz Malik, a prominent Labour Party member used Awema to attack Welsh language policies as being anti English and anti ethnic minority. He personally soiled the debate on the Welsh language for years. Never repremanded by Labour for this.

    Awema = Labour party.

  2. Gareth, this whole affair is a disgrace. It needs to be investigated with the same forensic thoroughness as Watergate. I count on you!

    As for your legal concerns I would advise otherwise. Say what you think and write what you feel. The laws of England and Wales afford us all this freedom no matter what!