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

Almost £20m raised through JustGiving for London Marathon

27 Apr 2015

Runners in yesterday's London Marathon have so far raised nearly £20m through JustGiving, the fundraising...

DEC launches appeal and government gives £5m to Nepal earthquake relief

27 Apr 2015

The government will give £2m to the British Red Cross and make another £3m available for charities and...

Philanthropist donates himself off the list of Britain's wealthiest people

27 Apr 2015

Richard Ross, chair of the Rosetrees Trust, donated 23 per cent of his wealth to charity in 2015, reducing...

CSV changes name to Volunteering Matters

27 Apr 2015

Community Service Volunteers has changed its name to Volunteering Matters and is placing more emphasis...

Macmillan and Marie Curie among charity coalition warning about 1.4m hospital deaths

27 Apr 2015

Seven of the UK's largest health charities have called for the next government to provide funding for...

National Union of Students protest billboards removed by Network Rail for being 'too political'

24 Apr 2015

Advertising billboards set up by the National Union of Students in London Victoria, Sheffield Central...

Charities 'need a complete culture change' for digital transformation, says report

24 Apr 2015

Digital teams need to develop better relationships with colleagues in IT and elsewhere in the organisation...

Comic Relief launches grants programme for digital projects

24 Apr 2015

Comic Relief has launched Tech for Good, a new grants programme to help charities run digital projects...

A third of Britons donate to charity by text message, reveals survey

23 Apr 2015

Over 30 per cent of Britons donate to charity by text message and 61 per cent now donate through online...

Join the discussion

 Twitter button

@CSFinance