The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Christian faith charity SPAC Nation that will examine its financial, governance and safeguarding activities.
New information received from trustees at the charity, which is registered as Salvation Proclaimers Ministries Limited, raised further concerns at the Commission following a regulatory compliance case opened in April 2018.
The Commission has ordered the charity to deposit substantial amounts of cash in a bank and is also concerned by a “lack of clarity” between the personal, business and charity roles of its leaders.
The inquiry will also investigate allegations from several individuals that they were encouraged to give money to the charity and people connected to the charity by taking on personal debt.
Those allegations were made public in the autumn, including reporting by the BBC and the Daily Mail.
Scope of the Commission's inquiry
The inquiry will consider SPAC Nation’s governance, management and policies and practices with regard to safeguarding and people protection, financial issues and risk management.
In particular it will look at how adequate the charity’s safeguarding practices are and the extent to which beneficiaries are being placed at risk.
It will also consider risks to the charity’s financial assets by its operating largely outside of its current bank account and working previously without a bank account.
The inquiry will also consider trustees’ management of risks, including reputational, due to continued negative publicity around the charity.
The Commission said it may extend the scope of the inquiry if further regulatory issues are discovered.
A spokesperson from the Commission said: “Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society; the issues that have been raised relating to SPAC Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.
“The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts.
“We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved.”
Other investigations into SPAC Nation
SPAC Nation faced investigation by the Metropolitan Police in November after a spokesperson from the Met said it had “received allegations that pertain to potential fraud and other possible offences”.
The Commission also said it was contacting the church charity about a tweet in which SPAC Nation appeared to support a political candidate, which would be in breach of charity regulation.
A spokesperson for SPAC Nation told Civil Society News: “An inquiry is not the finding of wrong doing, as stated by the Charity Commission.
“This inquiry will ascertain the facts and separate it from allegations, we will learn from this and we will get better.
“So again we welcome the Charity Commission’s inquiry with delight.”
This story has been updated to include comment from SPAC Nation.