Trustee dispute over divorce settlement costs charity $6m in legal fees

09 Oct 2017 News

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation has spent $6m (£4.5m) so far on legal costs to settle a dispute between two trustees who are going through a divorce.

Sir Christopher Hohn, a billionaire hedge fund manager, set up the charity alongside his wife Jamie Cooper in 2003. The couple separated in 2014 after 15 years of marriage.

Hohn, who made donations totalling $37m (£28m) to CIFF in 2017, has also said he is no longer willing to make any further charitable donations to the foundation, “until and subject to the outcome of the outstanding litigation”.

This follows a High Court judgement made in June that ruled that the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation must give another charity, BIG Win Philanthropy, run by Cooper, £280m.

In the charity’s recently published accounts it states that this is “because, in his view, he can no longer be certain that the statutory rights of members to approve (or reject) payments for loss of office of trustees, will not be overridden by the Court”.

The accounts state that the total legal costs incurred by the foundation total over $6m, which includes those made from the year ending August 2014 up to the end of May 2017.

It said that in the event of an appeal, “further costs are likely to be incurred subject to the advice and approval of the Charity Commission”.

'Reinventing ourselves'

CIFF’s latest annual report covers the 16 months from September 2015 to December 2016.

In the 16 months ending 31 December 2016, CIFF’s total incoming resources totalled $314m (£239m). The previous set of annual accounts showed a total of $247m (£188m) of income in the year up to 31 August 2015.

Staff costs were $14m (£11m) in the 16 month period, compared to $11m (£8m) in the 12 months previous.

In the accounts, chair Graeme Sweeney wrote: “Supported by an endowment of $4.7bn, CIFF is the world’s largest philanthropy that focuses specifically on improving children’s lives. And as the foundation embarks on its teenage years, it is reinventing itself. Not because we have changed our mission, but because we have decided to be bolder. Whatever the challenges, we are determined to help solve some of the biggest problems facing children.

“There was much change during the 16 months covered in this annual review (September 2015 to December 2016, “The period”). This included the appointments of a new board, myself as the new chairman and a new chief executive, Kate Hampton. At the same time, throughout this period of change, we have not deviated from our core mission: improving the lives of children around the world.”


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