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Drogba charity cleared of fraud but ‘may have misled donors’

Montreal FC striker Didier Drogba speaks to the crowd

Drogba announced in November that he will leave Montreal FC at the end of the MLS season

An investigation into a charity run by ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba found “no evidence of fraud or corruption” but said it may have “misled” donors.

The Charity Commission began its inquiry into “serious regulatory concerns” at the Didier Drogba Foundation in April.

That followed a Daily Mail report that only £14,115 of the £1.7m donated had gone to help causes in Africa.

Drogba, 38, said he is seeking damages and an apology from the newspaper.

The Commission, which used its powers to analyse the foundation’s accounts, said it was satisfied there was no foul play.

But it was critical of the fact the foundation failed to separate its activities from those of an Africa-based arm of the organisation.

That meant funds collected in the UK were not being spent on hospitals or clinics, as donors were led to believe, but were being saved in a UK current account.

“Donors will have expected their donations to have been used for charitable purposes, not accumulated in a bank account,” the report read.

“Donors to the English charity may also have been misled about the activities of the charity they were supporting.

“This is because the impression was given that the English charity had financed the activities of the Ivory Coast Foundation, which is clearly not the case.”

The Commission has issued the Didier Drogba Foundation with an “action plan” to make improvements.

What did the Mail claim?

The Didier Drogba Foundation was started in the UK in 2009 when the former Ivory Coast captain was playing for Chelsea.

The Mail claimed that since the foundation started, only £14,115 of £1.7m given by donors in the UK had been spent on charity projects.

It also claimed £439,321 was spent staging on lavish fundraising parties attended by celebrities, with one ball losing £71,000.

The newspaper also said supporters were told they were supporting the construction of a hospital and up to five clinics, but only one clinic had been built and it had no staff or medical equipment.

What did the Charity Commission look at?

The Charity Commission said it wanted to:

  • assess concerns about the administration of the charity and the oversight provided by trustees, all of whom appear to live abroad
  • investigate allegations that the charity has provided misleading information to donors and the public

It added: “The charity has raised and accumulated significant sums of money that have not yet been spent and further information is required over the plans to spend those funds.”

What are its findings?

“We have been able to satisfy our most serious concerns in relation to the charity by confirming that funds have not been misapplied and that all funds raised in the English charity’s name have been held by the English charity,” the report read.

“We are also able to confirm that we found no evidence of fraud or corruption on behalf of the charity.”

However, it continued: “We have issued the charity with an action plan to ensure that the outstanding concerns, particularly with regard to transparency to donors and the public, are addressed by the charity’s trustees.”

What does Drogba say?

Drogba released a statement welcoming the findings that “no funds have been misapplied by my Foundation, and that there has been no financial wrongdoing, no fraud and no corruption”.

He added: “I am pleased that this supports what we always said from the start, which is that the claims made by the Daily Mail back in April were entirely false.

“I have instructed my lawyers to seek a full apology and damages to be paid to my Foundation from the Daily Mail.”

What is the Daily Mail’s view?

The Mail has always stood by its story and journalism – and stressed that at no point had it ever alleged fraud or corruption.