Wales

Awema race equality chair Dr Rita Austin defends decisions

The chair of trustees at an under-fire Welsh charity has defended her actions.

The All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema) has been criticised over allegations of financial irregularities and staff bullying.

An independent report recommended chief executive Naz Malik be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. He received a written warning.

Newly appointed chair Dr Rita Austin said she had made difficult decisions for the charity's benefit.

Over recent weeks Mr Malik, has been accused of financial irregularities and bullying staff.

The charity deals with nearly £8.5m of public money passing it on to other ethnic minority groups in Wales.

Dr Austin said that to suspend Mr Malik would have incurred great cost.

"I have to make these judgements on behalf of the charity as I see fit," she told BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme.

The Welsh government is investigating the allegations.

In the meantime, Mr Malik says it would be inappropriate for him to comment.

The allegations centre around Mr Malik and his daughter, Tegwen Malik, Awema's operations director.

Dragon's Eye last week revealed that millions of pounds of the charity's funding has been suspended by the Welsh government pending an investigation.

Awema's trustees commissioned an investigation by Paul Dunn, the former head of an ethnic minority charity in England.

'High risk'

He recommended that Mr Malik be suspended pending further disciplinary hearing into the allegations. Mr Malik remains in his post following a written warning.

Several members of staff, former trustees and Mr Dunn have told Dragon's Eye they have not yet been contacted by the Welsh government.

Conservative AM Darren Millar, chairman of the assembly's public accounts committee, has written to the chief constable of South Wales Police asking for a full investigation, insisting that he no longer has confidence in the current investigation.

On Wednesday the Welsh government's permanent secretary Dame Gillian Morgan told Mr Millar's committee that Awema should have been graded "high risk".

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