The former chief executive of HIV Scotland will face trial on charges of embezzlement next year, it has emerged.
Nathan Sparling became chief executive of the charity in 2018 and resigned in 2021 after “a review identified that they had entered into a number of transactions that were not in pursuit of the charitable objectives of HIV Scotland, and as such are considered to be fraudulent”.
In April, a Police Scotland spokesperson told Civil Society that Sparling had been arrested and charged in connection with financial offences.
Today, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed that Sparling pleaded “not guilty via letter plea yesterday in relation to a charge of embezzlement”.
A spokesperson said: “An intermediate diet [a procedural meeting where the parties confirm if they will be ready to go to the full trial or if there are any outstanding issues that require to be addressed before the trial] will take place on 17 April 2024 and a trial diet is fixed for 9 May 2024.”
Charity ‘currently subject to insolvency proceedings’
HIV Scotland was registered as a charity in 2003 with the aim to further educate the public about the health of those diagnosed with HlV and related conditions, among other things.
The charity presented a petition to wind up to the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court, on 18 May 2023, after losing a large number of its trustees.
On 8 June 2023, the court appointed David McGinness and Brian Milne from French Duncan LLP as joint interim liquidators of the charity, according to the Gazette.
A spokesperson for the Scottish charity regulator OSCR said: “The charity is currently subject to insolvency proceedings. We cannot comment any further whilst these proceedings are ongoing.”
‘Exceptionally challenging year’
In its latest accounts, the charity said that 2020-21 had been an “exceptionally challenging year against the backdrop of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and an uncertain wider economic environment”, reporting a deficit of £18,661 during the year.
“During the year to 31 March 2020, the former CEO was advanced funds amounting to £11,540 and repayments of £5,012 were received leaving a balance due from the CEO of £6,298 at the year-end,” it wrote in the accounts.
“The total of expenditure identified as being fraudulent or not recovered from the former CEO amounted to £10,649”.