On August 28th at Swansea Crown Court Naz Malik, former CEO of race industry charity Awema, was found not guilty on two charges of fraudulently paying the charity’s cheques into his own account. A third charge, that he used Awema money to pay a life insurance policy, was not proceeded with.
The real issue never was that Naz Malik might have had his hand in the till, consequently this misguided prosecution was, at best, a distraction, with the danger that Malik’s acquittal will be interpreted as a vindication of Awema and the system that has created so many Awemas. This would be both wrong and dangerous.
I first encountered Naz Malik back in the late 1990s before his ambitions went national. He was then running the Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council. I was struck by the fact that he regularly came out with silly statements that had little to do with racism and everything to do with politics. Specifically, he would suggest that Welsh nationalism – and presumably Plaid Cymru – was inherently racist. A little checking soon revealed that Malik was a Labour Party stalwart, and even hoped to be a candidate at either Assembly or Westminster level, as did his children. Leading me to believe there was a quid pro quo arrangement that saw the local authorities on the Bay (Swansea, Neath Port Talbot) fund Malik in return for him putting the boot into them wicked nashies.
As regular readers will know, I have, for many years, been a consistent critic of Malik, Awema and the system that gave birth to Awema. Unfortunately my pre-2010 posts are now lost due to Google pulling the plug on my old blog for no good reason. (So avoid Google Blogger unless you want the same fate to befall you!) Even so, I have enough information to ask the following questions.
- After warnings in 2003 and 2007 that things were not right at Awema, why did the ‘Welsh’ Government continue funding the organisation? (In fact, there were 19 warnings from the Wales Audit Office!)
- What justified Malik increasing his daughter Tegwen’s annual salary from £20,000 to £50,000 in the space of three years? Or rather, why did those funding Awema not ask this question at the time?
- Why did no one in the ‘Welsh’ Government think it strange that they were funding a ‘Welsh’ charity that, on the Charity Commission website, claimed to also be operating in Kenya and Pakistan, using EU funding allocated to be spent within Wales?
- Given the known problems with the Malik family’s running of Awema was it wise for Labour to have Naz Malik’s son, Gwion Iqbal Malik, as a candidate in the May 2011 Assembly elections, and for First Minister Carwyn Jones to be seen canvassing with him? (Surely this should have been vetoed?)
- Why did no one wonder what the link might have been between Awema and Malik’s sister Fahro’s (now defunct) charity Lynk Reach Ltd? Or whether that connection was right and proper? (I’m told she was born in the same city, Nairobi, and in the same month, as Peter Hain. Funny old world!)
Well over seven million pounds of largely EU funding was squandered on Awema. As part of a wider system of Labour Party patronage that then enables local clients beholden to the party, like Naz Malik, to oversee their own systems of self-enrichment, patronage and nepotism. A veritable pyramid of corruption. So lucrative is this racket that once it became clear late in 2012 that Awema’s days were numbered a replacement sprang up, just a few streets away, in the form of Race Council Cymru.
I’m afraid my home town is getting a bad reputation for third sector corruption. In June this year I had to report on the charity MEWN. In more recent posts, The Impoverishment of Wales and Ancestral Turf, I have dealt with another Swansea-based charity, YMCA Wales. There had been rumours for a few years that this was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, and with my – ahem – customary perceptiveness, I wrote about YMCA Wales in July last year in YMCA ‘Wales’: Another Trojan Horse At The Trough.
YMCA Cymru’s chief executive, Mo Sykes, went missing in July, the trustees placed the organisation in receivership, while the ‘Welsh’ Government – perhaps hoping to appear decisive for once – called on DePlod to investigate.
Yet the problem isn’t with Swansea, the fault lies with a system that if it’s not designed to attract peripatetic third sector parasites will inevitably have that effect. For the word will quickly spread in their magazines, on their websites, and through the channels of the Guardian readers’ very own freemasonry, Common Purpose, that Wales is a soft touch, money is being showered on any shyster who can deliver a persuasive spiel.
In the dock at Swansea Crown Court should have been ‘Welsh’ Labour, not its creature, Naz Malik. It should have been charged with squandering EU and other funding on professional grant-grabbers in order to buy support, while turning a blind eye to how that funding was used, and abused, lower down the food chain. Also in the dock – for this system could never have flourished without it – should have been the self-styled Welsh media, fearful of upsetting the Labour Party and, as a result of that cowardice, betraying the Welsh people.
The real worry is that Wales now has a system that blatantly mis-uses grant aid to fund political patronage, and that this inevitably leads to nepotism, self-enrichment, corruption of all sorts – and yet no one seems to care! This is the real problem with the third sector in Wales. In fact, this sums up the third sector in Wales. And we shall all suffer while this pernicious system endures.