Friday, October 21, 2016

# 202 Some questions for Samuel Robinson, CCF Board member

Samuel Robinson, Cambodian Children’s Fund board member 

Dear Samuel

You are a member of the Cambodian Children’s Fund board. 

One of your jobs, as board member, is to see to it that Scott Neeson, as Executive Director of CCF, lives up to Charity Navigator’s 100% rating when it comes to Accountability and Transparency.

You are well equipped to do so, having worked for 18 years for Goldman Sachs in a variety of senior positions. You know how to read and assess Financial Statements; to know whether they reveal or conceal how money is being spent.

Take the following chart, for instance, published on CCF’s website:

I am not adept at reading Financial Statements and I suspect that this may be the case for many donors and sponsors to CCF who wish to know their contributions are being spent. 

Perhaps you can help us?

Does the expense item “Compensation” refer to salaries paid to CCF personnel?

It appears that this is the case to me, but perhaps I am mistaken? 

Could you please clarify? Yes or no?

If I am not mistaken, the following can be made as a statement of fact:

CCF’s salary bill 
2014/2015 was $3.7 million

To put it another way, more than one third of the NGO’s total annual income was spent on salaries. This is for a programme that claims to be looking after 2700 disadvantaged youngsters - most of whom live at home. (Only around 560 are in residential care).

$3.7 million 
divided by
2,700 = $1,370

CCF pays, on average, a $1,370 per annum salary to care for one disadvantaged child!

$1,370 is more than it would cost to support that one child’s entire family for a year. 

Is this an efficient use of donor and sponsor money?

If I am making some fundamental mathematical error here please correct me, Samuel. 

If CCF’s Charity Navigator 100% transparency and accountability rating bears any relationship to reality you will correct any mathematical or other errors I am making here!

Given that only around 560 disadvantaged children are in residential care (despite most of them having families!) the application of some more mathematics is in order. 

But first it is important to establish what salaries are paid to the teachers of these 2,700 children? And this requires that CCF reveal how many of these 2,700 children are attending free government run schools. Or, to put it another way:

How many of CCF’s 2,700 students are receiving an education paid for by CCF?

It is impossible to figure this out from looking at CCF financial statements! Why are figures such as this not made known to sponsors and donors?

100% Transparency and Accountability!

Let's imagine, for  a moment, that all 2,700 children are being educated at CCF’s expense. And let’s pretend, for a moment, that there are around 30 kids per class; that each class requires one teacher. That’s 90 teachers all up that would be required to teach all 2,700 kids if all were being educated at CCF’s expense.

How much do Khmer teachers earn? (Again, why not include such figures in CCF’s Financial Statements?)

I'll take a guess that each Khmer teacher earns $150 a month. That’s $1,800 per year for one teacher. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

Multiply $1,800 x 90 and we get a total salary budget for CCF’s 90 teachers of:


Let’s call it $200,000.

If we subtract $200,000 from $3.7 million and we are left with $3.5 million of salary expenses to be accounted for.

Scott Neeson earns around $8,000 a month so there’s another $100,000 accounted for.

How much do James Mc Cabe and Alan Lemon earn?

Let’s work on the presumption that they earn around the same as Scott Neeson.

There now remain around $3.2 million of wages yet to be accounted for.

Please feel free, Samuel, to correct me at any point where my mathematics is flawed.  

What about Khmer staff? Cleaners, admin etc.

Let me take a wild guess here. With roughly 560 kids in residential care, let say there is one Khmer staff member for every 5 kids. This gives us a total of around 100 Khmer staff.

If each member of staff is earning, say, $150 a month we arrive at a Khmer employee we arrive at a figure of:


Let’s call it $200,000 and subtract it from what remains of CCF’s salary bill as yet unaccounted for - $3 million.

According to my mathematics only $700,000 of CCF’s salary bill can be readily accounted for; there is around $3 million of CCF’s purported salary bill that remains unaccounted for.

I am quite prepared to stand corrected if my mathematics is wrong (maths has never been a forte of mine) and would ask you to do so if I have made errors here.

If my maths is not too far wrong, I would like to ask you, Samuel, on behalf of CCF sponsors and donors , in your capacity as a board member of CCF, and with your 18 years of experience with Goldman Sachs, to account for CCF’s $3.7 million annual salary bill.


And what about the $2.7 million spent on 'Direct Program Expenses'?

Would you be so kind as to provide CCF sponsors and donors with a breakdown of how this $2.7 million is being spent?


  1. Dear Samuel

    It has been suggested to me that the Cambodian Children’s Fund pays its teachers $250 a month - $100 more than the figure I guessed? Is this correct?

    I have also learned that all CCF kids attend free government schools so there would be no need for CCF to employ 90 teachers. However…

    CCF conducts supplementary classes for CCF kids which involve, I have been reliably informed, a curriculum limited to the learning of English and computer skills. Is this correct?

    How many supplementary teachers does CCF employ?

  2. It has also been suggested to me I should point out that the chart above, to be found on the CCF website, is drawn from CCF's formal 2015 submission to US tax authorities, justifying its charitable status.

    Charity fraud in the United States is rampant as a result of there being no official body that asks (using CCF as an example) to account for the $3 million in salaries that cannot be accounted for on the basis of the figures presented by CCF, to tax authorities.

    CCF may well counter this with:

    “Charity Navigator has given us a 100% rating for accountability and transparency.”

    However, Charity Navigator relies, entirely, on information provided to it by charities. Charity Navigator does not ask questions like:

    “What was the $3 million in salaries that has not been accounted for, spent on?”

    In the absence of such questions Charity Navigator’s ratings are worthless.

  3. James, you will never get an answer from Samuel Robinson. With 18 years
    of Goldman Sachs Experience he may well be the one that has the means to
    turn the Information of the Statement of Functional Expenses in such a
    fashion that it can hide detailed Information that you are asking for.
    This is no exception in the NGO World but hiring a "Specialist like
    Samuel Robinson" certainly shows that Scott Neeson is in the Business on
    a bigger scale.

  4. What a joke. 100% ranking for an NGO that's spends millions of funding on buying property and lavish lifestyles. Their tax returns which only ever displays money raised in the United States. What about the millions they collect through other countries they heavily target like Australia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore,
    Ireland, Canada?

    You can add the money from these countries to the $10 million declared in the US.

    Thank you James for highlighting these issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

    1. Thanks for info highlighting the fact Charity Navigator and Cambodian Children's Fund is corrupt.

  5. No response from Mr Robinson I take it?

    1. No. The CCF board, as with Scott Neeson, does not answer questions from the media.

    2. Does the media ask any questions? Obviously not the Post but why not the Daily?

  6. $ 3 million CCF can't account for! Mmmm! Has it fallen down the back of the couch :-)

    1. Not 'can't', but won't.

      Perhaps CCF can account for this $3 million in a way that has not occurred to me. I think CCF owes it to sponsors and donors to account for such a large sum of money.

      The key question here is transparency and accountability - neither of which CCF practices.

      I can understand why it is that small donors and those sponsoring kids don't necessarily feel the need to ask questions such as this but am surprised that donors of very large sums do not ask them. And I am surprised that someone like Samuel Robinson does not feel that the CCF board is under any obligation to answer them.

  7. You claim only the $3 million dollar hole, but actually any money spent on institutional care for children taken from families, is money spent to destroy the hundreds of children that Neeson has taken from families. The vast majority of these children go to the public school.

    1. There is more than just this $3 million that needs to be accounted for. The same applies to the “Direct Program Expenses” of $2.7 million.

      What, precisely, are “Direct Program Expenses”?

      There is clearly no point in asking Samuel Robinson so I will ask another member of the CCF board in my next post.

      As for the CCF kids, yes they all go to free government run schools. After school they receive some remedial teaching in English and the use of computers. How many teachers are involved in this is a secret Scott Neeson is not going to divulge. Why, you might ask? Why indeed?

      The reason I think is clear. CCF's figures do not make any sense at all. If CCF were to provide sponsors, donors and the media with a detailed breakdown of where and how money is spent it would become obvious that CCF is a massive scam. Possibly the biggest charity scam in Cambodia; dwarfing Somaly Mam.

      And why is the media not asking any questions? In the cast of the phnom Penh Post the answer is clear. In the case of the Cambodia Daily the answer is less clear.

      One thing is clear, however. When CCF is eventually exposed as a scam the inaction on the part of the media will be exposed for what it is.