Share

Commission looks into 'unusual' sale of spiritualist property

Commission looks into 'unusual' sale of spiritualist property
News

Commission looks into 'unusual' sale of spiritualist property

Finance | Niki May Young | 30 Jan 2013

The Charity Commission is "looking into" concerns over the sale by the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain of its historic headquarters in London, which was resold months later for more than three times the value under mysterious circumstances.

The Association, which seeks to offer evidence of the continuation of personality after death, sold its headquarters in London's prestigious Belgrave Square in 2011, claiming that the repairing lease and cost of running the building were "becoming onerous".

In a candid timeline on its website the Association advises that it sought first to buy the freehold for Belgrave Square in order to justify the substantial investment required in the building's repairs and renovations, but this proved too costly. The charity advised the move to sell the 175-year-old building at number 33 Belgrave Square was "probably the most poignant and difficult decision for the Association to make", saying it "was agreed by the board of trustees after much soul-searching and in a sign of the times and age, for sound economic and business reasons".

But questions have been raised by the Guardian newspaper about the move which, it claims, has seen millions of pounds exit the UK under "unusual" circumstances. Firstly, employees were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement after the sale to a "secret bidder":

"The Guardian has established, however, that Belgrave Square was sold for what now appears to be the relatively low sum of £6m to an anonymous [sic] offshore entity registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), called Platinum Prime Property Investments Ltd. The BVI is notorious for allowing UK property owners to conceal their identities," said the newspaper.

"The second unusual feature was that, according to records obtained by the Guardian, Platinum Prime agreed immediately to resell the property. What was most unusual of all was that it was to be sold on to a third party for the massively increased sum of £21m...As a result of these opaque transactions, a £15m profit appears to have travelled anonymously offshore, and the members of the Spiritualist Association, the SAGB, seem to have gained only a fraction of the apparent market value of their asset," it added.

The charity's accounts for 2011 confirm that the charity received £5.79m profit from the sale of the leasehold property which it advised at the time would be reserved for the purchase of a new freehold headquarters. It currently resides in rented accommodation in nearby Belgrave Road, and plans to secure a permanent address in the next year or so.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has submitted enquiries to the Commission which has confirmed that it is looking into the scenario:

"I can confirm that the Charity Commission is looking into concerns regarding the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain and considering them against our risk framework to determine whether there is a regulatory role for us in this matter. The concerns relate to the sale of the charity’s headquarters. We have not yet engaged with the charity, and we are not investigating it," said a spokeswoman for the regulator.

The Spiritualist Association did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

An approved planning application dated 29 May 2012 details intentions to turn 33 Belgrave Square and neighbouring 29 Belgrave Mews into a "single family dwelling". 

For a chance to win your choice of either our full Chief Execs subscription package or £100 of Amazon vouchers, tell us about your finance team here.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

ASA: “I wish I had breast cancer campaign” did not breach guidelines

23 Apr 2014

The Advertising Standards Agency has not upheld criticism over a series of controversial adverts by Pancreatic...

HMRC doubles scrutiny of charity gift aid claims following Cup Trust

22 Apr 2014

HM Revenue & Customs more than doubled the number of investigations into claims for gift aid in the...

Donations to foodbank appeal surge after critical Mail article

22 Apr 2014

The Trussell Trust’s Easter Appeal raised more than £50,000 in two days after a backlash on social...

Horse charity faces closure amid claims it is owed £70k by council

23 Apr 2014

A horse charity in Northern Ireland has said it may have to shut because of a massive bill it believes...

Shawcross terror warning in national press

22 Apr 2014

Terrorist abuse of charities is “potentially the most deadly” problem the Charity Commission faces,...

Husband and wife jailed for three years for charity theft

22 Apr 2014

The former chair of Lincoln and District Mencap and his wife have both been jailed for fraud and theft...

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations'

10 Apr 2014

Charities are focusing too much on using digital tools for fundraising instead of how technology can be...

Amnesty calls for 'full and frank disclosure' on alleged US surveillance

9 Apr 2014

Amnesty International has warned that alleged mass surveillance by the American intelligence agency NSA...

Virgin Money Giving launches app following year of growth

1 Apr 2014

Virgin Money Giving has launched an app for users after reporting that 30 per cent of traffic to its platform...

Join the discussion

 Twitter button

@CSFinance