Fact Check: Biggest Charity Fraud in Panama Papers

‘Kill Ahmadis’ Hate Group alleges financial misconduct by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. 

An anti-Ahmadi activist with links to the extremist Khatme Nabuwat group recently wrote a libelous article alleging financial misconduct on the part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The allegations are so absurd, they do not merit a response. But for the benefit of those who are unaware of the community and how it works, here is a brief point-by-point response to the allegations.

1) Author belongs to Khatme Nabuwat Hate Group:

First of all, the article in question is written by Akber Chaudry, a full-time anti-Ahmadi fanatic who has devoted his professional career to attacking the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He is the spokesperson for the ‘Khatme Nabuwwat’, hate group which is in the forefront of the ongoing persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. Its UK branch was recently reported by the BBC to have published and distributed leaflets calling for the faith-based murder of Ahmadis. Chaudry even gave the BBC an interview at the time to defend these atrocities. In an interview given to IB Times Choudhry said there is nothing wrong with ‘Kill Ahmadis’ leaflets

Taking his analysis of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as gospel is exactly like going to professional Islamophobes such as Ayan Hirsi Ali to learn about Islam: or to an antisemite Mullah to learn about Judaism. With that perspective in mind, let us turn to the content of the article.

2) Charity Commission in the UK audits Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

The article makes a number of unsupported claims. It begins however by mentioning that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is registered with the Charity Commission in the UK (and is also registered with similar public organizations in the numerous other countries in which it operates). The Charity Commission (and similar bodies in other countries) completes an independent audit of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community annually. This is always passed in flying colors and is available as public record (pictured right).

This is as opposed to other charities belonging to certain other sects which are regularly flagged by the Charity Commission.

And who would know better than Akber Choudhry himself, who has three companies listed under his name in public registries in the UK and Canada. The first one (QERN academy) had to be compulsorily struck off by the British government under the Companies Act 2006 (Section 1000(3)) for lack of payment. The status of his annual flings for his second company based in Canada is also not up-to-date and listed as ‘overdue.’ And a third company (DIGIWAVE) under his name also narrowly escaped suspension is overdue again and pending suspension.

3) Offshore Accounts ≠ Fraud.

The piece basically states that since the Ahmadiyya Community held offshore accounts at one point, hence it is guilty of financial fraud. There is no evidence of this ‘charity fraud’ provided at any point during the article. This allegation is a deliberate attempt at misleading the reader, if not due to genuine ignorance of the world’s financial system. Merely owning an offshore account does not equal illegitimacy. There are many legal and sound reasons for companies, trusts and organizations to keep offshore accounts. In fact, the disclaimer on the Panama Leaks database states this fact in bold on its front page (picture attached).

What are some of these legal reasons to keep an offshore account? Here are 10. Asset protection and ease of international transactions are two. We will discuss this more in #9 below.

4) Does the Ahmadiyya Community Force the Poor for Donations?

Unfortunately, Mr. Chaudry is prone to making statements that are not truthful. For example, in his article he writes:

“And this wealth is not through business. It is by forcing poor people … to cough up 5–10% of their income.”

Anyone close to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community knows this is a practice frowned upon in the community. Instead of taking from the, there are multiple schemes (loans, grants etc) that actively help those suffering in poverty. The Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, reminded office-holders of this in the recent past:

Management should be thoughtful about such people and should not force (poor) people to pay. Sometimes finance secretaries pursue people [and should not do so in these cases]. Contributions should be taken in accordance with people’s situations.” (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Friday Sermon 7 November 2014)

That said, I am glad the Khatme Nabuwat group has – for the first time – admitted that the community’s funding comes from the pockets of common Ahmadi Muslims. In the past, the group has accused the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of being funded by ‘the West.’

5) Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s ‘Dubious’ Projects?

Later, Chaudry writes:

“Money flows as charitable donations from ‘have’ countries like U.S.,. Canada, Pakistan, Germany and U.K. into AMJ International from where it is distributed into dubious projects around the world.”

Those ‘dubious’ projects include the building and maintenance of 16,000 mosques worldwide, the publication of the Quran with translation in over 70 languages, the running of several multi-language global free-to-air and commercial-free TV channels, the running of numerous websites, radio stations and mobile apps. The building and staffing of over 600 charitable schools and 40 hospitals in some of the poorest parts of the world. The building of thousands of water pumps, solar panels and other facilities in disadvantaged parts of Africa and Asia etc. Other ‘dubious projects’ include providing for the families of Ahmadi martyrs, widows and less advantaged members of society, and securing Ahmadiyya Mosques around the world from extremists such as those belonging to the Khatme Nabuwat group.

Non-Ahmadis who have visited Ahmadiyya missions across the world bear testimony to the astonishing scale of charitable work going on. Many dignitaries who have spoken at the community’s annual gatherings have praised these efforts and lauded the community as a champion of human welfare and selfless service.

Akber himself has previously tweeted about the work done by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

6) Income & Expenses balancing out is proof of financial regularity, not misconduct: 

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 7.14.49 PM

Chaudry continues with absurd statements such as:

“Al-Shirkatul-Islamiyyah, and curiously, its income and expenses almost balance every year.”

Al-Shirkatul-Islamiyyah is a charity based in London. Those Ahmadi Muslims who visit London are regularly given tours of its offices. Only those who are prone to undue suspicion could find anything other than signs of good management in the fact that its income and expenses balance out each year. The real sign of fraud would be if the community was (1) hoarding donations which went unspent with income exceeding expenses or (2) overspending beyond its means with expenses exceeding income. Balanced sheets – which are publicly available with the UK Charity Commission – being presented as a crime is frankly absurd. It demonstrates how Chaudry repeatedly presents a virtue as a vice for the sake of his own agenda. For this, he relies heavily on an ignorant readership.

7) Ahmadi Muslims spending on projects ‘unrelated’ to organization goals?

Regrettably, the author digs himself even deeper in the sentences that follow:

“Since Mirza Masroor Ahmad came to power, he has focused on investing in properties and totally unrelated to the goals of the organization.”

And what are these properties whose ‘unrelated’ purposes the Khatme Nabuwat activist fails to explain or give a single example of? Well, in 2011 a total of 419 of them were mosques. Yes, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community built or purchased 419 mosques worldwide in 2011. In 2013, the community managed 394 mosques. Maybe Chaudry thinks Mosques are ‘unrelated’ to the goals of the Ahmadiyya Community because he neither identities the Ahmadis as Muslims nor Ahmadiyya Mosques as Mosques. But clearly, Ahmadi Muslims around the world disagree. In 2014 one of those dubious projects was providing relief to Pakistanis affected by the floods. In 2016 members of Ahmadiyya sect met with Palestinian leaders to find ways to provide scholarships to provide scholarships to Palestinian students.

In fact, just two days ago, the Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, inaugurated a state-of-the-art Mosque in Sweden.

Jammat e Ahmadiyya Pakistan also lead the flood relief efforts during the Pakistan floods of 2014, the beneficiaries of these relief efforts were mostly non-Ahmadis and the below video is testament to the great work done by the community.

Pakistanis says Jammat e Ahmadiyya's flood relief efforts better than Punjab Government's which are being led by Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif

Posted by Rabwah Times on Friday, September 12, 2014


8) Does the Ahmadiyya Khalifa Live in Extravagance?

Khalifa’s residence is a small flat by the Mosque, on the first floor of community offices.

In fact, Ahmadis will find these allegations even more loony given the Khalifa, now in his position for thirteen years, lives in a small flat above the Fazal Mosque in London. Hundreds of thousands of Ahmadi Muslims have visited him there and met him personally in his small office. This is someone who is the head of a religious organisation whose members donate tens of millions a year in the UK alone, not to mention hundreds of millions more worldwide. If he is so corrupt, why have he and his wife spent the last thirteen years living in a small flat, wearing an inexpensive white shalwar kameez (Asian shirt) and working from a small cramped office by a mosque? Clearly, far from being a corrupt hoarder of money, the Khalifa is a humble and honest man of great integrity and simple means. 

9) Ahmadiyya Property Seized in Pakistan:

29PAKISTAN-superJumboAs far as the offshore accounts are concerned, it must be remembered that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is severely persecuted in Pakistan. Its mosques and properties are regularly seized by the government and by extremist mobs belonging to – or supported by – the Khatme Nabuwat group. In the Ahmadiyya town of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) to which Chaudry refers, property was seized from Ahmadis by the government recently and then sold at a profit, with the provision that those who buy the property must sign to confirm that they are not Ahmadis and promise never to sell or return the land to Ahmadi Muslims. Given these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the Ahmadis of Pakistan chose to keep their assets offshore. It is perfectly legal for them to do so and there is no evidence of any wrongdoing or fraud whatsoever.

“An offshore bank account also protects you from overzealous government agencies armed with the summary power to freeze your assets.” (Source: 10 Reasons Why You Need an Offshore Bank Account Today)

Would you not prefer to save your charity’s money (which is tax-exempt anyway) from being seized by a hostile agency, especially when there is a history of such abuse in the past?

10) Interesting Confession by Khatme Nabuwat Group:

Tahreek Khatam e NabuwatFor many decades, the anti-Ahmadi Khatme Nabuwat group alleged that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was funded by the West. We now know that it was Pakistan’s Sunni Tehreek which received funds from the United States. And Saudi Arabia has funneled hundreds of billions of dollars around the world to promote their Wahhabi version of Islam, and in many instances lead to rise of religious extremism, especially in countries such as Pakistan. This is the first time the Khatme Nabuwat group has come out admitting the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is funded by ‘common Ahmadis.’ But the new line seems to be to convince the Ahmadis that their well-earned money is being spent on extravagance and dubious projects. The only problem here is that there is neither any proof of extravagance, nor of any suspicious projects. As they say, the onus of wrongdoing is on the accuser. We will wait for evidence.

In short, charities are already tax-exempt. The only reason to save these funds outside Pakistan is security, not evasion. The way these funds are generated and spent is routinely audited both internally and externally, and in the words of the Khatme Nabuwat activist ‘always balance out.’ If there is any evidence of ‘fraud,’ let the Khatme Nabuwat group present it to the world.

If the above proof is not enough, the Akber’s own claims are contrary to the statements he himself made in a video on the same subject.