The British government has suspended its funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the body that runs the international organization from London,.
According to a report by the BBC, UK diplomats have told Lady Scotland, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, that Britain’s annual £4.7m voluntary contribution will be withheld until her secretariat improves its financial procedures.
The Secretariat insisted it was implementing recommendations made by external auditors and that the decision that came after Lady Scotland was criticised by auditors for “circumventing” usual competitive tendering rules, when she awarded a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a friend.
The auditors also discovered that procurement rules had been waived by the secretariat on no fewer than 50 occasions over three years.
Commonwealth heads of government have already rejected calls to give Lady Scotland an automatic second term of office when it comes up for renewal this year.
The funding crisis came to a head last week, when Commonwealth high commissioners in London, who together form the organisation’s board of governors, met to discuss the results of the investigation by the external accountancy firm KPMG.