The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into Bhaarat Welfare Trust (registered charity number 1077821) and frozen its bank accounts. The inquiry was opened on 6 January 2017.
The charity has objects to promote the Hindu culture and religion, to advance education and to relieve poverty. It carries these out by making grants, primarily overseas. The Commission has been engaging with the charity since 2013, but found serious issues when it visited the charity in 2015.
The inquiry will examine:
- whether the trustees have acted prudently in relation to the financial administration and management of the charity
- whether the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law
- whether the trustees have protected the charity’s assets, including its reputation in relation to the ongoing dispute with another registered charity
- whether legal action taken against another charity is lawful and if so, whether use of charitable funds on this action is justifiable
The Commission conducted a books and records inspection at the charity in May 2015, and identified a number of serious regulatory concerns about the financial management of the charity. In particular the Commission had concerns about the ability of the trustees to account for funds transferred to India between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2015, the basis on which donations for a specific project were held, unmanaged conflicts of interests and whether Gift Aid had been validly claimed by the charity.
In August 2015 the regulator issued an action plan for the trustees to address these concerns. However the charity’s response provided in November 2015 was lacking. Further meetings were held in August and November 2016 but the trustees failed to address the Commission’s concerns. The Commission has further serious concerns relating to legal action taken by the charity regarding a dispute between the charity and another UK registered charity.
The Commission stresses that opening an inquiry is not in itself a finding of wrong doing. The purpose of an inquiry to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether there has been misconduct and 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 by the Commission 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. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
- Search for charities on our online register.
- 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 investigative, protective and remedial legal 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.
- In order to protect the charity’s funds and other property, the Commission has frozen the charity’s bank accounts.
Read more information on the Commission’s policy and factors taken into account when deciding to issue a press release.
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