Press release

Regulator finds misconduct and mismanagement in development charity

The Charity Commission has today published a report of its inquiry into Caring for Children in the Gambia.

The commission’s inquiry considered concerns about the charity’s relationship with a non-charitable company (‘the company’) which was established with a similar name, and the risk of misuse or loss of charitable funds. The inquiry also considered an application to register the company as a charity.

The commission’s inquiry has concluded that the charity trustees:

  • did not maintain adequate financial controls for the charity
  • were unable to demonstrate that all expenditure was a proper application for the purposes of the charity; and
  • did not adequately separate the affairs of the charity from the affairs of the company

The charity was registered with the commission in February 2005 with the object of advancing the education of children in the Gambia, West Africa. A company with a similar name was subsequently set up in 2008 and an attempt made to register it with the commission in 2011. The commission did not accept that the company was set up as a charity and required further evidence before any registration application could be considered further.

The commission’s subsequent engagement with the charity and the company did not allay the commission’s regulatory concerns and an inquiry into the charity was opened in 2014.

The company ceased trading shortly after the charity trustees were notified of the opening of the inquiry and the company was subsequently dissolved in 2015. The charity also ceased to operate and has been removed from the commission’s register.

Carl Mehta, Head of Investigations and Enforcement Operations at the Charity Commission, said:

Basic financial management is a core responsibility of trustees of charities, large and small. Trustees must manage a charity’s resources properly and be able to show they have used them properly. This includes ensuring that their charity’s assets are only used to support or carry out charitable work.

Charities often work closely to good effect with other organisations, but they have to keep their affairs separate from them, especially when they are carrying out activities which are not charitable. Otherwise they risk making the charity vulnerable to abuse, and being in breach of their legal duties as charity trustees.

The full report is available on GOV.UK.

Ends

PR 03/16


Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.

  2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and 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 and charities are held to account.

  3. Caring for Children in the Gambia’s registered charity number was 1108231.

  4. The charity’s reported income for the financial year ending 31 October 2010 was £4,200.

  5. The company’s name was ‘Caring for Children in the Gambia Limited.’

  6. Charities can change their structure from an unincorporated association or trust to a charitable company or CIO. There are also other types of conversion. More information can be found on GOV.UK.

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