Rami Adham, a Finnish-Syrian man, popularly known as the "Aleppo toy smuggler" has dismissed fraud accusations levelled against him after Finnish police on Friday (21 October) launched preliminary investigations into his use of donated funds.
The 42-year-old received global media attention after he started collecting money for orphans in Aleppo. But Finnish police said that it had received a number of complaints from citizens who alleged that Adham could have withdrawn part of the donations for personal use.
The complainants also claimed that the "toy smuggler" had links with jihadists and had faked an injury.
However, the father-of-six has denied the allegations and told the BBC that he has receipts of all the expenditures and is working with the Finnish government about his contacts. But he did admit to have "exaggerated" the extent of his injury.
Helsingin Sanoma, a Finnish newspaper has accused Adham of fraud and claimed that the organisation he works for to support orphans in Syria – the Alkefah Institute – had received €35 (£31.32) per orphan as donation, but spent only €9-€20 per child.
He clarified that the amount he received not only covers expenses, but deals with education and health services for orphans and a monthly food basket.
"We are providing a full package service; we're not giving all the money to the orphans," Adham noted.
"This is something you do when you go to a war zone. In order for me to go to Syria and especially Aleppo, I have to go through many groups," Adham told the BBC.
He added that he has been cooperating with Finnish police and intelligence organisations: "They are fully aware of what exactly I am doing in Syria, and who exactly I move around with."
Refuting claims that he faked an injury in January 2016 as a publicity stunt, Adham said, "It [the injury] did occur, but I might have exaggerated it a little bit - why, because I would like the Finnish media to pay attention more to the mass killing of my own people."