The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to the Bhaarat Welfare Trust because it has ongoing concerns about the charity's financial management.
The Leicester-based charity provided grants primarily overseas toward its objective of promoting Hindu culture and religion.
Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson LLP will be reviewing the charity’s financial controls and overseas payments and will consider evidence of how its funds were applied.
The interim manager will also secure the charity’s properties by taking control of the trust’s assets.
Appointing an interim manager at a charity is a temporary and protective measure that occurs where the Commission has identified misconduct or mismanagement.
Failure to evidence expenditure overseas
The statutory inquiry opened in January 2017 to investigate concerns including trustees’ failure to evidence significant charitable expenditure overseas.
The Commission froze the charity’s bank accounts to protect funds intended for charitable purposes.
Trustees at the Bhaarat Welfare Trust could not demonstrate that the charity had the appropriate financial controls and the necessary due diligence checks in place.
This was in spite of receiving regulatory advice and guidance since 2013, such that the Commission found serious issues when it visited the charity in 2015.
These included concerns about trustees accounting for funds transferred to India since 2010.
Donations for a specific project were held, there were also unmanaged conflicts of interest and concerns over whether Gift Aid claims from the charity were valid.
The charity submitted its response to these concerns in November 2015, but it was deemed inadequate.
After further meetings in 2016, the trustees failed to address the Commission’s continued concerns.
There were additional concerns from the Commission about legal action taken over a dispute between the Bhaarat Welfare Trust and another UK-registered charity.