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‘Significant funds’ drained from bar charity’s bank account without permission

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Exclusive: Bridging the Bar says cash has since been returned

A leading bar diversity group says it has permanently removed one of its members after discovering they had transferred “significant funds” from the charity’s bank account to their own personal one.

The unnamed individual did not have permission to move the money between accounts, Bridging the Bar said, adding that it had since taken steps to recover the undisclosed sum.

An email sent this week to the charity’s partner chambers and supporters “in the interests of transparency”, provided further details of the “unfortunate incident”.

“Over the summer, we identified that significant funds had been transferred from the Bridging the Bar bank account by [a member] to their own personal account without proper authorisation.”

The email, seen by Legal Cheek, goes on to explain that the individual was in charge of this particular bank account and so could access and transfer charitable funds.

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It continues:

“We are pleased to report that upon discovery, we were able to take steps to ensure that those funds were promptly returned in full to the charity within eight working days.”

The member in question was “permanently removed from office” last month, according to the email.

Bridging the Bar was founded in February last year by “star at the bar” Mass Ndow-Njie to inspire students from “non-traditional backgrounds” to join the profession. The registered charity partners with a number of top chambers to provide bar hopefuls with mentorship and mini-pupillages.

A spokesperson for the charity told Legal Cheek that it now requires multiple members to authorise financial transactions, “to ensure that no individual has access to or control of charitable funds”. It has also reported the incident to the relevant authorities, including the Charity Commission.

The charity declined to comment on the amount that was transferred nor did it give reasons why the money was moved. It also did not name the individual concerned.

“We were very keen to be transparent and inform our supporters and partners about the situation,” the spokesperson continued. “We have been extremely grateful for all the messages of support and encouragement that we have already received from them and look forward to continuing to work with the profession and to build on the incredible successes of our first year as a charity.”

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