When an earthquake devastated Kashmir in 2005 killing nearly 80,000, his Helping Hands for the Needy received national media coverage for its apparent role in sending aid.

The Duke of Edinburgh, no less, visited its premises in Stratford, East London.

“We are much honoured by the royal visit and appreciate the thoughtfulness and concern shown by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh,” gushed Ashfaq at the time.

According to its publicity, Helping Hands for the Needy had sweeping ambitions: “The relief of poverty and sickness anywhere in the world, and in particular, those affected by natural causes or by wars and conflicts, foreign and domestic, by the provision of financial or other assistance including medicines, hospitals, shelter, food, clothing, sanitation and clean drinking water.”

Behind this bluster lay Ashfaq, a 44-year-old from Harrow in North London, and a tale of greed and deceit.

The wheels started to come off his gravy train three years after that earthquake when, in 2008, the Charity Commission investigated what it called the “weak governance and a lack of financial controls” at Helping Hands.

The charity was given legal advice and some improvements seemed to be made, but two years later the Commission took another look at the accounts at Helping Hands.

In theory, there were trustees in place to stop donations going astray but in practice, there was still little scrutiny.

“This lack of adequate governance and management of the charity meant that the then trustees failed to safeguard the charity’s funds which led to thousands of pounds of charitable funds being misused,” the Commission has just reported.

Numerous examples of money being siphoned away were identified, including payments for parking fines and home improvements.

Ashfaq had insisted that he was not paid for his work at Helping Hands for the Needy.

But the Commission discovered that he had obtained a mortgage by telling the lender that he was paid more than £85,000 a year as the charity’s managing director.

It also discovered that his wife netted £77,000 over three years.

The charity rented its office from Ashfaq, paying £1,200 a month directly to his mortgage providers. Other payments included £134,000 to companies linked to Ashfaq or his family members.

According to the Commission, there was no evidence to show that the payments were authorized by the charity trustees.

And what of the overseas good causes that they were supposed to be helping?

Most of the charity’s funds came from donations for specific appeals but the accounts revealed that all the money was lumped together.

Meanwhile, huge payments were made to “volunteers” abroad – one received £79,000 and another got £109,000.

The excuse used by Ashfaq and fellow trustee Syed Iqbal was: “Due to poor banking systems in the countries where they were operating there was no other way of getting the money to the projects.”

Ashfaq resigned from the charity before he could be officially removed by the watchdog.

In December 2013, he was banned from being a company director for 12 years, and Iqbal was banned for five years.

Helping Hands is now in liquidation and the Commission is taking legal action to recover misappropriated money.