Belfast Telegraph

Charity’s account frozen in probe

By Donna Deeney

The bank account of a charity has been frozen while police probe alleged financial irregularities.

The charity Seeds, based in Londonderry’s Magazine Street, has had its account put on hold.

However it is believed the probe is centred on an individual, rather than the organisation as a whole.

“While we do not comment on named businesses or individuals, police in Foyle are investigating following an allegation of financial irregularities,” a PSNI spokeswoman said. “Police have interviewed a man in relation to this investigation. A file will be prepared for the PPS in due course.”

Seeds was set up in as a charity in 2005 to assist migrant workers arriving in Derry.

It receives funding from a number of sources, including Derry City Council and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

All funders of the charity have been informed. It is also understood that Derry City Council and the Department of Finance and Personnel have contributed to the police investigation.

When contacted, Derry City Council said it is “unable to provide any further comment due to a PSNI investigation”.

A spokesman for OFMDFM and other relevant departments said there would be no comment due to the “ongoing” investigation.

The Culture Company announced this week that a key event involving Seeds for the UK City of Culture celebrations next year would not be going ahead.

Chief executive Shona McCarthy said there were too many financial risks involved in being the sole contributor of the £1.2m funding needed to bring the WOMAD festival to the city. But it said its assessment was based on a WOMAD report it had commissioned, and there is no suggestion that the decision was linked to the current investigation.

In a statement this week, the Culture Company said it had asked WOMAD for a feasibility study into hosting the festival.

“A sub-group of the board was then established to consider this proposal. It found that, on the basis of the feasibility study, the financial risk of hosting the festival to Culture Company, as sole funders, was too high. Seeds has been made aware of this decision and fully accepts it,” it said.

In a statement afterwards, Seeds said: “Having met with the Culture Company and discussed WOMAD's feasibility study, the board of Seeds do not believe they would be in a position to financially support the festival.”

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