Attorney General Ellison sues nonprofit and its leaders for misusing funds and extensive governance violations; seeks to shut down nonprofit
State files lawsuit against ThinkTechAct Foundation and three of its leaders for running a sham nonprofit, misusing nonprofit funds obtained from the federal child nutrition program, and other charities violations
January 10, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed a lawsuit against Minnesota nonprofit ThinkTechAct Foundation and founder and President Mahad Ibrahim, board member Abdiaziz Farah, and executive director Bianca Scott, alleging they ran a sham nonprofit, misused nonprofit funds, and violated numerous other governance requirements under Minnesota charities laws. AG Ellison’s lawsuit asks the court to dissolve ThinkTechAct, impose civil penalties on the individual defendants, and prevent the individual defendants from serving as officers or directors of any nonprofit or charitable corporation in Minnesota in the future.
The complaint, filed in Hennepin County, accuses the defendants of pocketing sizable nonprofit assets obtained through the federal child-nutrition program. The complaint also alleges that ThinkTechAct failed to comply with numerous governance requirements for nonprofits, failed to register with the Attorney General’s Office as a soliciting public charity or charitable trust, failed to file required annual reports on its activities, and failed to cooperate with the Office’s investigation as required by law.
“It is wrong that ThinkTechAct’s leaders took advantage of funds meant to help children.” Attorney General Ellison said. “My office launched this investigation and filed this lawsuit because we cannot allow nonprofits to be hijacked to line the pockets of their directors and officers. The overwhelming majority of Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations do vital work supporting our communities, but sham nonprofits and their leaders who abuse the public trust must be held accountable.”
The Charities Division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office launched this investigation under Minnesota’s civil nonprofit corporation, charitable solicitation, and charitable trust laws. The Office’s independent investigation revealed that Ibrahim received at least $21.8 million of nonprofit assets, of which he steered more than $14.8 million to entities owned or co-owned by Farah. Meanwhile, one of Farah’s entities made payments to Ibrahim of nearly $850,000 for “consulting.” Ibrahim and Farah were criminally indicted in September 2022 by a federal grand jury on several charges related to the federal child-nutrition funds, including wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.
In Minnesota, the Attorney General through the Charities Division has civil enforcement authority over the state’s nonprofit corporation and charitable-solicitation, and charitable-trust laws. The Charities Division does not enforce criminal laws. Under state law, nonprofit executives owe fiduciary duties to act in the best interests of the charities that they serve, including putting the interests of the nonprofit above any personal financial interests. The Attorney General’s Office provides additional information about these fiduciary duties, as well as other resources to help nonprofit leaders properly serve their organizations, on its website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Charity/InfoNonProfits.asp.
The public may submit complaints to the Attorney General about nonprofit directors putting their own interests before the charity’s interests. Complaints may be submitted either by using a form on the Attorney General’s website, or by calling (651) 296-3353 (Metro area), (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), or (800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay).