The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into Healthy Planet Foundation (registered charity number 1122475). The charity’s objects include promoting the conservation, protection and improvement of the natural environment. The inquiry was opened on 18 June 2015.
The commission had been engaging with the charity as part of an operational compliance case since September 2014, when the charity reported the loss of £345,000 as a consequence of alleged fraud to the regulator. The charity also reported the alleged fraud to the Police.
The commission’s compliance case highlighted a number of wider regulatory concerns, including concerns about payments from the charity’s subsidiary company to companies linked to individuals connected with the charity, including trustees. Other concerns included the charity’s involvement in rates relief schemes, which have resulted in the charity incurring losses following legal action taken by a local authority.
The commission is also concerned that the charity has only two trustees, while the charity’s governing document requires that there be three trustees for quorate decision making.
Taken together, these concerns prompted the commission to open the statutory inquiry.
The issues the inquiry will examine include:
the circumstances leading to the significant financial loss of charity funds via alleged criminal activity
trustees’ decision making when entering the charity into rates relief schemes and circumstances leading to the significant financial loss as a result of legal action taken by a local authority
- the trustees’ administration, governance and management of the charity, in particular around the business model of the charity and its subsidiary and the dealings of the latter with other companies, including the management of conflicts of interest that may arise
- whether or not, and to what extent, there has been mismanagement and/or misconduct on the part of the trustees in the administration and management of the charity
The regulator stresses that opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing. The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether or not there has been misconduct or mismanagement; establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; decide what action needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its investigative, protective and remedial powers to do so.
It is the commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries are available on GOV.UK.
The charity’s details can be viewed on the commission’s online charity search tool.
Notes to editors
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
* charities know what they have to do
* the public know what charities do
* charities are held to account
- Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the commission access to a range of protective and remedial powers.
- The commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.