Regulator investigates spiritualist charity with ‘disputing trustees’

31 Jan 2024 News

By Ivelin Radkov, Adobe

The Charity Commission is investigating a spiritualist charity after it uncovered a lack of financial controls and disputing trustees.

It states the trustees have been unwilling or unable to work together to address serious regulatory concerns.

Trust Property Held in Connection with the London Spiritual Mission is a charity that was established in 1945 to hold and maintain property for the London Spiritual Mission church.

The Commission website shows the charity reporting is overdue by 822 days, and it opened the statutory inquiry on 7 December 2023.

Data for the financial year ending 31 December 2019 puts the charity’s total income at £68,900 and total expenditure at £110,000.

Decision-making concerns

The Commission has identified that significant decisions relating to property renovations may have been made by one trustee without full consultation of the trustee board. 

This includes decisions to pay connected parties for renovation services and spending double the agreed budget.

Through its engagement, the regulator discovered that the charity does not hold a financial controls policy. 

The inquiry will examine this, as the Commission states a lack of sufficient financial controls is potentially putting the charity’s funds at risk.

It adds the charity also filed its 2019 annual accounts 184 days late and has failed to submit any for the last three years. 

A statement from the Commission reads: “The regulator understands these have not been submitted as a result of the ongoing dispute between trustees meaning that they could not agree on final versions.”

Its inquiry will examine whether all trustees have had sufficient oversight of the charity’s funds. 

The inquiry will also look at the trustees’ compliance with their legal duties and if they have appropriately identified and managed conflicts of interest.

Regulator ‘is not a mediation service’

The regulator’s statement notes that it “is not a mediation service or to be used as an intermediary between disputing trustees”. 

“The Commission’s role in this inquiry focuses on the charity’s trustees’ conduct and compliance with their legal duties,” it said.

The regulator said it may extend the scope of the inquiry if additional regulatory issues emerge.

It is the Commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing the issues examined, any action taken, and the inquiry’s outcomes.

The charity has not yet responded to Civil Society’s request for comment.

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