All Wales Ethnic Minority Association
The All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (AWEMA) was a Swansea, Wales-based charity, which was focused on national-level distribution of funds to various ethnic minority projects across Wales. It lost its charity status and funding in 2012 following repeated claims of mismanagement, investigated by the Welsh assembly.
AWEMA, a company limited by guaranteed and registered charity, was governed by a Council of Members that are drawn from the five electoral regions of Wales. AWEMA’s principal objective is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the Welsh public. This is achieved within four objectives:
- Develop the capacity and skills of the multi ethnic communities of Wales so that they are better able to participate in society
- Advance education in equality and diversity by producing educational materials
- Raise awareness of all aspects of discrimination in society on the basis of race or ethnic minority status
- Promote racial harmony for the public benefit throughout Britain
AWEMA lost all its funding in 2012 following investigations into claims of gross mismanagement by the funding bodies. On 15 January 2013, following a year-long investigation it was announced that South Wales police will be meeting with the CPS to discuss their findings.
- Chair: Dr. Rita Austin
- CEO: Naz Malik
- Treasurer: Vacant
- Mid & West Wales: Sulakhan Singh Dale (Vice Chair)
- Mid & West Wales: Sajida Hussain
- South Wales East: Tarek Samad
- North Wales: Sha Siddiqi
- Co-Optee: Steve Lewis (Banking)
- Company Secretary: Sha Siddiqi
- Mr. Sulakhan Singh Dale
- Mr R Davies
- Dr Sibani Roy
- Mr Naz Malik
- MR Stephen Robert Matthews
- DR George Karani
- MR. Naeem Amir
- MR. Sam Singh
- MRS. Zakia Ahmed
- MS Laurice Matthews
In 2004, Welsh Government Minister for Social Justice Edwina Hart commissioned an independent report on AWEMA's projects. The report stated no new projects should be funded until AWEMA demonstrated improved project and performance management, and that as a result AWEMA should be graded "high risk" by as a publicly funded institute. The conclusions stated:
|“||After four years of operation and £325,000 of Welsh Assembly Government funding, the impact that AWEMA has had on the Welsh Assembly Government’s approach to BME [black and ethnic minority] communities in Wales has been somewhat limited.||”|
On 2 July 2007, acting chairman Mr PK Verma and two other trustees resigned from the board of AWEMA, after being thwarted in an attempt to call a special board meeting. In a letter to the board and further correspondence to the Welsh Assembly, Mr Verma stated that:
|“||The remuneration of the director [Naz Malik], in particular the authorisation of salary and pension increases that had never been before the board, nor the management and supervision of the director. We have all come to the conclusion that it may be better to resign and leave the Assembly to sort out what is a most unsatisfactory situation.||”|
A senior Welsh Assembly government official replied on 13 July 2007 to Mr Verma, stating that "these are essentially internal operational matters and ones for you and the board to resolve."
In early January 2012, CEO Naz Malilk and his daughter Tegwen Malik (Operations Director), were involved in controversy involving claims of bullying and "financial irregularities" at AWEMA. AWEMA admitted that Naz Malik had been disciplined after admitting using more than £9,000 of AWEMA’s money to pay off his credit card debt, a payment which he stated that he regarded the money as an advance on his expenses. A resultant report prepared by an independent investigator Dr Paul Dunn suggested that AWEMA was an organisation mired in nepotism, with Malik’s daughter and daughter-in-law also working for it in senior roles, and his wife and son as volunteers. Dunn recommended the immediate suspension of both Naz and Tegwen Malik pending further investigations, something which new chair Dr Rita Austin choose not to implement, citing cost grounds.
As a result, the National Assembly of Wales (NAW) instigated a full report on AWEMA. On 26 January 2012 public funding was suspended by the NAW (holding £3M in funds), and the Big Lottery Fund. Under questioning from the NAW Public Accounts Committee (NAWPAC) on 31 January 2011, Welsh Permanent Secretary Dame Gillian Morgan said that the Welsh government was "extremely concerned", and that as a result of the 2004 report AWEMA had not been graded "high risk". As a result of her evidence, NAWPAC chair Darren Millar stated that the police should investigate the allegations of financial corruption at AWEMA.
After it emerged that Naz Mailk had campaigned with First Minister Carwyn Jones for his son Gwion Iqbal Malik, who stood on Welsh Labour's Mid and West Wales regional list for the National Assembly for Wales elections in 2011, the First Minister made a statement in the National Assembly to state that Welsh Labour and the National Assembly had "nothing to hide". Under pressure to make the 2004 report public, it emerged on 7 February 2012 that the report had been placed in the NAW library in 2004.
New Chair Dr Rita Austin defended AWEMA, posting of a 13-page report on AWEMA's website. In it she stated that AWEMA had become a "stick to beat the Welsh government", and that attacks on it were a "time honoured way of debasing and devaluing" black and ethnic minority people. Further, following questioning on BBC Wales politics programme Dragon's Eye on 2 February, Dr Austin demanded that BBC Wales immediately amend a headline it had been running on its website.
On 9 February 2012, NAG Finance Minister Jane Hutt announced that all Government funding to AWEMA had been terminated after a joint NAW/Big Lottery Fund investigation found "significant and fundamental failures", and a "fundamental lack of control". The report found that expenditure of charity funds included: £2,120 on gym memberships for staff; £800 on rugby and cricket tickets; £110 on paying a parking fine for CEO Naz Malik. Hutt further announced that the Wales Audit Office was to carry out a "thorough and independent review" of the history of funding to the charity. Additionally, on the same day, the Charity Commission said it has opened a statutory inquiry into "serious concerns" about AWEMA, while South Wales Police were considering the NAG/BLF report findings.
On 17 February, CEO Naz Malik and Finance Director Saquib Zia were dismissed following the allegations of mismanagement.
- "Introduction of AWEMA". AWEMA. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Public funding pulled from race relations body Awema". BBC Wales. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Matt Withers (7 February 2012). "Welsh Government was advised to stop funding Awema in 2004, new report reveals". Western Mail. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- "Awema: Welsh government warned in 2004 to stop funding". BBC Wales. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Race equality body Awema 'should have been high risk'". BBC Wales. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Martin Shipton (9 February 2012). "Previous chairman and two trustees of ethnic minorities charity Awema quit in 2007". Western Mail. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- Awema race equality charity bosses 'bullied staff' claim, BBC News, 2 February 2012
- Martin Shipton (11 January 2012). ""Full investigation" by Welsh Government into All Wales Ethnic Minority Association". Western Mail. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "All Wales Ethnic Minority Association: Darren Millar urges police inquiry". BBC Wales. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Awema race equality chair Dr Rita Austin defends decisions". BBC Wales. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Tories question Labour Wales links to Awema charity's boss". BBC Wales. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Carwyn Jones: Government has nothing to hide over Awema". BBC Wales. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Rita Austin suggests race element in Awema attack". BBC Wales. 6 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Awema funding terminated after probe finds 'lack of control'". BBC Wales. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- "Awema scandal: Naz Malik and Saquib Zia are dismissed". BBC Wales. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012.