Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Wednesday, 9 October 2002 16:47 UK

Cleric investigated by watchdog

A Muslim cleric is being investigated by the Charity Commission over the financial affairs of an East London cultural centre.

It is claimed that Kutubuddin Ahmed Shikder concealed his ownership of the Bow Muslim Cultural Centre after asking members of his religious community to raise 430,000 to buy it.

Mr Shikder asked his followers to help buy the property in early 2000, claiming the absentee landlord was considering disposing of the property.

But locals subsequently discovered the premises were only valued at 140,000 and that Mr Shikder himself owned it.

This person has not contributed positively to this community
Cllr Kumar Murshid

One councillor in Tower Hamlets said the community was "up in arms" over the affair and said Mr Shikder had lost "our trust and our support".

BBC London has learned that two further investigations are also underway: one by police and another by the Home Office.

The Bow Muslim Cultural Centre was converted from a pub at a cost of 75,000.

But when Mr Shikder asked members of the congregation to raise the 430,000, they decided to approach the owner themselves, without Mr Shikder's knowledge.

Birthday honour

Documents lodged with the Land Registry revealed Mr Shikder owned the property.

The money raised is in a bank account. Mr Shikder and one other person have access to it.

Some of the money raised has been returned to members of the congregation, but it is not known how much was raised in total.

Mr Shikder was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June.

But Councillor Kumar Murshid, from Tower Hamlets, said the local Muslim community was upset over the way Mr Shikder had handled the financial affairs of the Cultural Centre and did not believe the MBE was justified.

"This person has not contributed positively to this community. He has done things which have lost him our trust and our support," he said.

  • Update: September 23, 2008: The Charity Commission report found that there was no evidence that funds had been misappropriated from Bow Muslim Community Centre's account.




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