The Charity Commission has launched an investigation into 72 Royal Air Force mess charities, following the theft of more than £72,000 by an employee.
The regulator launched the statutory class inquiry into the 72 charities, which include 61 RAF mess charities based in the UK and 11 overseas, in May this year.
The investigation followed the regulator being notified by the managing trustee of two RAF mess charities of a fraud carried out by a contractor’s employee at RAF Honington. At the time the full extent of the fraud was not known.
The employee, Zowie Davis from Honington, later pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position involving more than £72,000 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Ipswich Crown Court.
The losses occurred over a two-year period and raised serious regulatory concerns. As well as financial losses, the incident has a serious impact on the ability of the two mess charities to prepare, maintain and preserve accurate accounting records. This meant the RAF Honington mess charities did not fully comply with their legal obligations under Charities Act 2011, including failure to file accounts with the regulator for the last three years.
The Commission investigation will look at what other losses have occurred at other messes, and if so, whether “adequate steps were or are being taken to recover any such losses and the adequacy of serious incident reporting by the managing trustees of registered RAF mess charities”.
It will also look at the adequacy of the RAF mess charities’ control procedures and practices.
A full list of the charities under investigation can be seen here.