Press release: New charity investigation: The Cowesby Trust

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into The Cowesbv Trust, registered charity number 223450. The inquiry was opened on 26 October 2016.

The charity has objects to relieve either generally or individually persons resident in the parish of Cowesby or in any neighbouring parish who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress.

Following the receipt of information raising regulatory concerns about the financial management of the charity, the Commission conducted a series of enquiries including an analysis of the charity’s bank accounts, which identified a number of serious regulatory concerns about the operation and financial management of the charity.

Consequently, the Commission established that large sums of money have been paid from the charity to an unconnected company and to the charity’s trustee. The Commission has also established that there is a disparity between the level of funds that have flowed through the charity’s bank account and those disclosed in its annual returns.

The charity is also operating in breach of it governing documents, which state there should be at least 3 trustees, whereas there is currently only one trustee listed on the register of charities. This gives rise to serious concerns about the legitimacy of the trustee decision making and whether charitable property has misapplied for non-charitable purposes.

The inquiry will examine:

  • the financial controls, management and application of charitable funds, property and assets belonging to the charity
  • the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees, particularly whether the trustees have acted prudently and exercised reasonable care in respect of the day-to-day running of the charity
  • whether there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees and consider whether remedial regulatory action is necessary
  • whether the charity’s objects are being met and the charity is operating for the public benefit

In order to protect the charity’s funds and other property the Commission has also made orders under section 76 of the Charities Act 2011 to freeze the charity’s bank accounts. This prevents the trustee and the charity’s bankers from parting with any of the charity’s property without the permission of the Commission.

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.

Ends

PR 81/16


Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
  2. Search for charities on our online register.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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