Members of the Egyptian Association in the UK (UKEA) have warned their organisation is on the brink of bankruptcy due to a disputed loan.
UKEA is the largest and most influential Egyptian charitable body in the UK.
Last week, the British High Court ordered the UKEA to repay a loan provided two years ago by an Egyptian businessman to its disputed chair Omar Ismail.
According the case documents, Ismail admitted he received the loan with an interest rate of 25 percent.
The court ordered the UKEA to repay £38,500 inclusive of court fees.
Dr Shenouda Shalaby, the secretary general of UKEA, told Ahram Online that the society has only about £35,000 in its bank account.
If the UKEA does not appeal the order, “this result will cause the association to go bankrupt,” he warned.
UKEA’s bank account was frozen due to the dispute, and the loan should be repaid unless the court order is overturned on appeal.
Mostafa Ragab, the founder of the UKEA, disputes Omar’s presidency. After an extraordinary meeting in 2003, the General Assembly elected new management headed by Ragab.
The Charity Commission (CC), the non-ministerial government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales, is still investigating the dispute.
The UKEA was established in 1994 with the purpose of serving the interests of Egyptians, estimated at 200,000, in the UK.
Its services include providing free funeral services, organizing Haj and Omrah trips at budget prices, helping Egyptians integrate in UK society and advising on immigration issues.
The Egyptian Embassy and Consulate used to rely on UKEA to give possible help and support to Egyptian nationals even if they aren’t members of the association.
Omar said he had to get the loan in 2012 to pay the UKEA’s necessary expenses.
Last year, a lower court ordered Omar to repay the loan.
However, a higher court accepted an appeal, filled by Raga and Shenouda, on behalf of the General Assembly members, asking to set the order a side; on the basis of the loan’s legality and authenticity.
Although the High Court overturned this order, the judge has allowed Ragab and Shenouda to appeal.
Subsequently, Ragab called on members to give him permission to file the appeal.
“We are seeking your support to appeal against this court order and requesting for you to vote for an appeal and give us the opportunity to explain this matter in detail,” Ragab said in a message to members.
Some members plan to write to the CC, asking “to intervene to save” the charitable organisation.
During last five years, the UKAE has organised charitable events to collect clothes for orphanages and poor families in Egypt.
Egypt Air supported these events.
A. Shoukry, a UKAE member, expressed his disappointment that the association is about to lose the members’ money.
“If one of my family members died, the association would not find a penny to send his body back to be buried in Egypt,” he told Ahram Online.
The authorities, particularly the police and CC, should do something to save our helpful organisation and our money as taxpayers, he added.
“Once we get the approval of members, we will contact the solicitors to get the legal advice and take action,” Ragab said.
Other members have also suggested Andy Slaughter, the local member of Parliament, should intervene by asking the CC to accelerate its investigation into the association’s legitimate management.
Slaughter, shadow Justice Minister and MP for Hammersmith, is one of the most supportive politicians for the association. He has repeatedly hailed it as a community leading organisation.