Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

British businessman killed in plane crash ‘leaves Oxfam Dh194 million’

The multi-millionaire Richard Cousins reportedly left the sum through a common tragedy clause in his will

Businessman Richard Cousins left Oxfam a substantial sum after he died in a plane crash on New Years eve. AFP 
Businessman Richard Cousins left Oxfam a substantial sum after he died in a plane crash on New Years eve. AFP 

Oxfam will reportedly receive up to £41 million (Dh194 million) due to a “common tragedy clause” in the will of a British businessman who died in a sea plane crash on New Years eve.

Richard Cousins, 58, was killed in the crash near Sydney along with his two sons, fiancée Emma Bowden and her daughter. The pilot, Gareth Morgan, was also killed in the accident.

Mr Cousins, who was chief executive of the world’s largest catering company, Compass, was planning to leave his fortune to his sons William, 25, and Edward, 23, but changed his will a year before the accident to include a “common tragedy clause”, according to The Sun.

The clause was designed to designate a beneficiary in the event that Mr Cousins and his sons were killed at the same time. When the crash happened last year, the clause left Oxfam as the beneficiary of all but £3m of his wealth, of which £1m each was reportedly left to his brothers Simon and Andrew.

Although Oxfam did not confirm the exact amount it was receiving, a spokesperson told The National the charity was “extremely grateful” for the bequest.

Oxfam said it is working with Mr Cousins’ family and its board to decide where and how the money should be used.

The charity, which works on projects in ninety countries around the world, accepted £19.8m in bequests from wills last year.

Mr Cousins’ bequest will be a welcome reprieve for Oxfam, which has had its finances and reputation damaged following revelations by The Times newspaper that senior staff had paid survivors of the Haiti earthquake in 2010 for sex.


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In an internal document leaked to The Guardian in June, the organisation’s outgoing chief executive Mark Goldring told staff “substantial amounts of money” would need to be saved to put the charity back on a stable footing following the scandal.

A statement released by the charity confirmed it would be making cuts.

“We are devastated that the appalling behaviour of some former staff in Haiti and shortcomings in how we dealt with that eight years ago mean we now have less money to provide clean water, food and other support to people who need it," the statement read.

It said the charity would be cutting head office and support roles, but investing in efforts to kerb sexual harassment and abuse.

Following a report by British MPs released in July, which accused UK charities of working harder to protect their reputations than the people they serve, Oxfam established an independent whistleblowing line and tripled funding for safeguarding.

Updated: August 21, 2018 06:49 PM