Published:  01:51 AM, 25 May 2024 Last Update: 01:03 PM, 30 May 2024

Million Pound Missing from East London Mosque: Authorities Remain Silent

Million Pound Missing from East London Mosque: Authorities Remain Silent

Janomot Report: The East London Mosque Trust, one of Europe's most prominent Islamic institutions led by British Bangladeshis, has lost one million pound by investing mosque funds into a business. The mosque authorities have not provided a clear explanation for this significant loss, raising questions and concerns within the community.

The incident involved the investment in Matz Medical Limited, a company that went into administration.

In April 2022, the mosque fund invested £1m in Matz Medical Ltd., and within just seven months, by November of the same year, the company went into administration.

Despite specific questions from Weekly Janomot, the mosque authorities have not provided clear answers, avoiding the questions by stating that "the matter is under legal process."

This avoidance has led to questions about the mosque management committee's responsibility to the devout donors who support this big mosque.

The East London Mosque was established in 1910 by the Muslim community in Britain. It has grown to its current status primarily through the financial support of British Bangladeshis over a half a century.

The East London Mosque Trust manages this vast institution, which is registered with the Charity Commission and has 82 members. These members elect 12 trustees who carry out the primary responsibilities of managing the mosque. The East London Mosque raises 4 to 5 million pounds annually through regular Ramadan appeals and various activities. This mosque is liked by the wider community it serves.

However, it remains a mystery why a mosque, which appeals large amounts of money during Ramadan under the guise of "Qard Hasanah" chose to invest mosque funds in this manner.

JANOMOT Newsweekly sought answers to many questions (see questions below) raised by the public about the wisdom and involvement behind this investment decision, primarily since the mosque collects significant amounts as Qard Hasanah annually without repaying these loans.

After several weeks of attempts (including email exchanges), the CEO of East London Mosque Trust, Mr Junaid Ahmed, responded briefly, stating, "We are unable to comment further to avoid prejudicing the ongoing legal process". (Full response below) 

Similarly, in a telephone conversation with Janomot, former Chairman Mr Ayub Khan responded. However, neither Mr Khan nor the mosque authorities had provided a clear statement on what kind of legal action is being taken, against whom, when this alleged "case" might be resolved, or if the lost funds can be recovered.

One million pound was invested following a board decision during Mr Ayub Khan's tenure as chairman. At that time, Mr. Dilwar Khan was the finance director. He also told Janomot, "The matter is under legal process, so I cannot say much."

First Admission of Lost Funds

During Ramadan, the East London Mosque hosts iftar and press briefings with local Bengali media annually. The goal is simple: to highlight their activities from the past year and launch a fundraising campaign. The authorities introduce new projects annually and present them to the community through press conferences. Funds have been raised through appealing campaigns for various development projects, such as purchasing premises adjacent to the mosque, extensions, Waqf funds, and dome repairs. There is also an annual appeal for Qard Hasanah (benevolent loans).

However, at this year's press conference, the leaders of the ELM Trust muttered to answer a particular question. They were utterly unprepared. A journalist asked about the longstanding rumors in the community regarding the mosque's loss of one million pounds. Other questions also arose about the dome fund that had been collected without any work starting, why world-renowned hafises from Bangladesh were not brought to lead Tarawee prayers, establish a library, and account for the mosque's income and expenses.

In response to the question about the lost million pounds, ELM Trust Chairman Dr. Abdul Hai Morshed, though somewhat unprepared, eventually admitted that the mosque had suffered a loss of one million pound from the investment. He described the issue as "complex," stating, "It's problematic if we say too much and also if we say too little." He added that they are trying to recover from this loss but did not explain how.

Meanwhile, some sources suggest that some trustees have partially compensated the Trust for the loss or promised to do so. However, former Chairman Ayub Khan told Janomot that "this is not true." There is a rumor that the Trust has recovered up to 300,000 pounds in this manner.

A source associated with the mosque mentioned that another company acted as a guarantor for the investment, and the legal proceedings are primarily aimed at recovering money from this guarantor. Some believe that a "property" was held as a guarantee. Due to the mosque authorities' "mysterious" lack of clarity, various opinions, speculations, rumours, and doubts are spreading within the community.

The East London Mosque Trust's financial statement filed with Companies House mentions that ""The full investment amount of ELMT, is deemed irrecoverable." This raises the question: if it is deemed "unlikely to be recovered," why is it repeatedly stated that "no questions can be answered due to ongoing legal proceedings"?

Significant Fundraising During Ramadan

Ramadan is the busiest month for all mosques, religious institutions, and charity organisations. During this month, Muslims give various types of charity, including Zakat and Fitrah.

For the East London Mosque Trust, it is also an important month. They raise funds through various appeals. This Ramadan, through different appeals, the East London Mosque raised £444,191 in cash and an additional £362,182 as Qard Hasanah and pledges. This totals more than £800,000, which was collected from the community during Ramadan. Besides internal appeals in the mosque, extensive campaigns were run on television and in several Bengali weekly newspapers. In the past, this institution has also raised over a million pounds in Ramadan alone.

Notably, the East London Mosque, a prestigious and esteemed institution among the European British-Bangladeshi community, provided 1,000 iftar meals daily for worshippers this Ramadan. Additionally, with the help of the mosque's charity partners, 12,000 iftar meals were provided in Sudan, Somalia, Malawi, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Palestine. During Ramadan, 41 external charity organisations raised a total of £450,000 at the mosque during Zuhr and Tarawih prayers. The East London Mosque also collected £96,528 as Zakat al-Fitr this year.

Financial Statement of East London Mosque Trust Regarding Matz Medical

The financial statement of the ELM Trust, submitted to Companies House, states: In the financial year 2022-2023, East London Mosque Trust invested one million pounds with a company named Matts Medical Limited.

A company called Olive Capital Group facilitated this investment for ELM. The purpose of the investment was to finance the purchase orders of medical supplies for the NHS.