Oct 4 • 2 min read

Ogston controversy emphasises the need for due diligence in philanthropy

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Following an investigation by The Sunday Times, Scotland Yard is reviewing evidence suggesting that Hamish Ogston, a philanthropist and one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals, engaged in the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation.

Approximately 1,000 leaked documents have unveiled that Ogston, who is 75 years old and worth £130 million, may have been involved in the trafficking of numerous Thai and Filipina sex workers over the past 15 years. 

Ogston’s charitable foundation has donated tens of millions to heritage, healthcare, and women’s education projects. But these projects now face massive reputational damage and must distance themselves from these shocking revelations if they are to continue to have credibility, instil trust, and thus deliver the good work that they do. 

Ogston himself acknowledged the impact his conduct would have on the charitable projects that he supports: “I’m very sad that the publication of these allegations is going to cause immeasurable harm to the charities which I have been able to support over the years.”

While few donors find themselves embroiled in such an extreme scandal, this case emphasises the importance of performing rigorous donor due diligence. 

This isn’t the first time Ogston has been entangled in a scandal. At the age of 32, he founded Card Protection Plan, a credit card insurance business. The company faced accusations of mis-selling, and the Financial Conduct Authority imposed a record fine after determining that its protection policies were essentially worthless.

The allegations disclosed in The Sunday Times may have only recently come to light, but evidence suggesting that Ogston was not the benevolent philanthropist he made out to be has been in the public domain for years—if you knew where to look. 

With a tool like Xapien, it would have taken just minutes to uncover this information. You can find out more about how Xapien’s AI improves reputational due diligence here.

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