Children’s Investment Fund Foundation spent over £10m in legal fees in seven years 

03 Aug 2022 News

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) has spent more than $12.9m (£10.6m) in legal fees as part of a divorce settlement between its founders. 

The foundation’s latest accounts show that between the year ended August 2014 and 31 December 2021 total legal costs arising from “governance issues” amounted to $12.9m. 

CIFF was jointly established in 2002 by Sir Christopher Hohn and his then wife Jamie Cooper, who served as the foundation’s president and chief executive. A breakdown of their marriage created conflicts in the administration of the charity. 

As part of their divorce proceedings in 2014, Cooper agreed to resign from the charity. The High Court later ordered CIFF to make a £277m donation to Big Win Philanthropy (BWP), a charity set up by Cooper. 

Grant to BWP and legal fees

The report says that of the $12.9m spent in legal costs, $3.2m were paid to parties in relation to the grant made to BWP.

The accounts read: “During the year, the matter of legal costs arising from the appellate proceedings was resolved, with the foundation making payments to Ms Jamie Cooper and Dr Marko Lehtimaki, as ordered by the Supreme Court and in amounts agreed between the respective parties.

“The foundation was ordered to pay the legal costs of the attorney general who was also a party to the proceedings but as at 31 December 2021, the attorney general had not made any claim for such costs. While the foundation has taken advice that it has complied with all its obligations in relation to those costs, an amount of £250k has been reserved in the event that a claim is made.”

As of 31 December, CIFF had paid four instalments of the grant, totalling $72m. 

Income and charitable activities

The latest accounts also reveal that the charity’s income significantly fell to $29m in the year to 31 December, down $97m in 2020. However, investment gains were up from $264m to $695m.

The combined net investment return for the financial year was 12%, a 4% increase on 2021, “reflecting continued strong investment performance, with a cumulative performance of 471% since April 2009”. This represents 15% per annum return. 

CIFF has upped its charitable activities over the past four year, from $247m to $828m. Meanwhile, grant funding rose from $208m to $468m over the same period. 

Staff, cash at hand and philantrophy

The charity employed 167 employees in 2021, up from 132 in 2020.  

The highest remuneration paid in the year was between $591,000 and $605,000, an increase from the year prior. 

Meanwhile, cash at bank and in hand rose from $104m to $424m. 

CIFF says in its accounts that it has engaged with more philanthropists to fill the gap left by “shrinking financial commitments from donors, most significantly the UK’s reduced aid target”. 

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