Corporate backers demand answers over Oxfam sex crimes scandal

Oxfam is facing tough questions from its corporate backers following revelations of sex crimes committed by the chari...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 9:05 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 9:05 PM

Oxfam is facing tough questions from its corporate backers following revelations of sex crimes committed by the charity's workers in Haiti and Chad.

The Times of London has reported that Oxfam sought to cover up misconduct by senior aid workers deployed to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The aid workers -- including the Oxfam country director at the time, Roland van Hauwermeiren -- were accused of turning a villa rented by the organization into a makeshift brothel.

Oxfam is supported by dozens of big companies including Visa, Google, PayPal and Unilever. It spent over -300 million ($414 million) in its latest financial year to address poverty and help victims of conflict and natural disasters.

The charity raised -17.4 million ($24 million) from philanthropists, companies and foundations last year, according to its annual report.

Visa described the sex crimes revelations as "deeply disturbing."

"We are engaging with Oxfam to understand exactly what occurred and what recourse will be taken," Visa said in a statement. "We are committed to the highest standards of professional and personal conduct, and we expect the same from our partners."

Waterstones, a British book retailer, said it would stick by the charity for now.

"We listen to, and seek to understand, the assurances given by the Oxfam leadership and at this point remain committed supporters to the charity," Waterstones said in a statement.

Britain's Co-operative Bank said it was in touch with Oxfam and "closely monitoring the situation." Another partner -- London's Heathrow airport -- said it was "taking this matter very seriously."

Google, PayPal and Unilever did not respond to requests for comment. U.K. department store chain Marks & Spencer declined to comment.

Related: Apple partners with Malala Yousafzai

The Times said a confidential report by the charity found that van Hauwermeiren, who resigned in 2011, paid women for sex in the villa the charity had rented for him during the Haiti relief efforts.

CNN has not independently reviewed the charity's internal report.

Van Hauwermeiren has not commented publicly since The Times report on Friday. CNN's attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

According to the paper, the report also found that "children may have been among those sexually exploited by aid workers," and that there had been a "culture of impunity" among some staff in Haiti.

Related: Would you pay a tax on coffee cups?

Penny Lawrence, the organization's deputy chief executive, resigned on Monday.

"Over the last few days we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behavior of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon," she said. "It is now clear that these allegations -- involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behavior of both the country director and members of his team in Chad -- were raised before he moved to Haiti."

Oxfam has denied allegations of a cover-up, saying that as soon as it became aware of the allegations it launched an internal investigation resulting in the dismissal of four staff members and the resignation of three, including the country director.

The aid group also said accusations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.

Government funding for Oxfam is also at risk.

The U.K. government's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt warned on Sunday that Oxfam could lose millions of pounds in public funding because of the scandal.

Oxfam received around -32 million ($44 million) from the government in the last financial year, according to public records.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it would pull funding from any agency that's "not living up to the required high ethical standards."

Oxfam received just over -29 million ($40 million) from the commission in its latest financial year.

-- Angela Dewan, Bharati Naik and Chris Liakos contributed to this report.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 80°
Florence
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 82°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Scottsboro
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 233569

Reported Deaths: 2952
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34523553
Davidson29914326
Knox1193687
Hamilton11197103
Rutherford11090106
Williamson665649
Sumner5664107
Wilson443153
Putnam415653
Montgomery387251
Out of TN377535
Unassigned37264
Madison363079
Bradley343421
Sullivan324845
Sevier317321
Blount313932
Washington313244
Maury308135
Robertson249839
Hamblen233843
Tipton220622
Gibson205938
Dyer203726
Hardeman179532
Coffee177420
Trousdale17437
Obion164918
Bedford159620
Dickson157318
Fayette157022
Anderson156713
Greene156551
Wayne15657
Loudon155010
McMinn152232
Cumberland150124
Lawrence147918
Jefferson146619
Weakley144425
Carter142832
Monroe137027
Henderson136125
Warren135110
Hardin132219
Lauderdale131918
Macon126324
Franklin122816
Roane12017
Haywood119526
Overton113311
Johnson11067
Hawkins110524
White110214
Carroll109424
McNairy109126
Marshall10568
Rhea104916
Cheatham97311
Lake9703
Smith94713
Cocke92612
Bledsoe9244
Giles90134
Campbell8857
Fentress8618
Lincoln8142
Crockett78321
Henry74610
Hickman74413
Chester71314
Marion7089
DeKalb67716
Decatur62811
Grainger5394
Grundy5248
Claiborne5046
Union4992
Polk47413
Jackson4225
Humphreys4154
Morgan4116
Houston39215
Benton3919
Cannon3872
Clay37112
Unicoi3672
Lewis3522
Scott3324
Sequatchie3294
Stewart3117
Meigs2965
Pickett2495
Moore2452
Perry2081
Van Buren1911
Hancock1123

Community Events