Global Virtue banned from conducting fund-raising appeals after complaints

Global Virtue banned from conducting fund-raising appeals after complaints

SINGAPORE - The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has issued a prohibition order against Global Virtue, its directors Muhammad Zuhairi Bin Abdullah , and its adviser Jeffri Bin Pawel. The parties are banned from conducting any fund-raising appeal for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes from November 14.

In a statement, the COC said that it had received complaints about teenagers soliciting donations or selling vouchers at public places purportedly for charitable causes on behalf of Global Virtue.

The company claimed to the public and on its website, to be contributing a portion of sale proceeds to non-profit and charitable organisations as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

Investigations showed that Global Virtue Pte. Ltd. had no proper control over the vouchers or sale proceeds and no proper accounting records were maintained, as required under the law, COC said on Thursday.

The COC has concluded that the fund-raising appeals by Global Virtue Pte. Ltd. were improperly administered by its Directors and adviser Jeffri Bin Pawel.

In addition, the COC has also issued an advisory on the issue of direct selling for charitable or philanthropic purposes. Organisers are expected to comply with regulatory requirements even if they have communicated disclaimers that they are not conducting a donation drive, COC said.

Here is the COC's Public Advisory:

In the case of direct selling, it is important to note that where there is a representation that the whole or any part of the sale proceeds would be used for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes, such sale activities are considered fund-raising appeals by law. This is the case even when sellers communicate any form of disclaimers, such as, "this is not a donation drive" or "this is not a fund-raising appeal".

As such, organisers of such activities are expected to comply with the regulatory requirements prescribed in the Charities (Fund-Raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations 2012. These include the keeping of proper records, and the duty to disclose clear and accurate information on, amongst others, the name of the charity or persons to which the donation will be given, the purpose for which the donation will be used and whether any commercial fund-raiser has been engaged.

If the fund-raising appeal is conducted by way of appealing to the public, made by means of visits from house to house or of soliciting in streets or other places or by both such means, fund-raisers are required to obtain a licence from the Singapore Police Force under the House to House and Street Collections (HHSC) Act.

When approached at publicly-accessible areas for donations or contributions towards purportedly charitable purposes, members of the public should verify if the fund-raiser has been given a valid licence under the HHSC Act. This can be done by sending a SMS query to 79777 using the following format: "FR".

The COC would like to thank members of the public who brought the fund-raising activities of Global Virtue Pte. Ltd. to its attention.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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