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Posted 22 December 2017
Red Card Given To Deen Team Trustee
This week, it has been reported that a trustee of the former charity, Deen Team, has been disqualified for 4 years following investigation into the use of charitable funds.
The disqualification comes after three years of investigation following the Charity Commission’s initial visit to the charity that highlighted serious concerns relating to the charity’s financial controls, due diligence and governance.
However, this was not a ‘big bad wolf’ scenario where the Charity Commission turned up on one visit to huff and puff the charity into closure. Reports cite an initial offering of advice and guidance to the trustees following the visit in an effort to preserve the charity and its work. Unfortunately, a continued lack of cooperation with the Commission’s follow-ups and failure to follow advice resulted in a statutory inquiry in June 2016.
The Commission identified a series of failings in relation to the conduct of all of the charity’s trustees. However, what tipped the balance for the subsequently disqualified trustee was their own:
- failure to comply, in whole or in part, with several Orders and Directions of the Commission;
- failure to evidence a legitimate and lawful reason for a £2,000 payment made to them personally by the Charity; and
- personal use of charitable property that clearly conferred a personal benefit.
That trustee was also found to have disregarded the advice and guidance given by the Commission, despite holding a valuable position in terms of continuity by being the only trustee to have remained in office consistently throughout their investigation.
What can trustees do to prevent this kind of action by the Charity Commission?
In short, listen to the advice.
Enough guidance is freely available online through the Charity Commission website to, at the very least, equip yourself with the basics. If the Charity Commission do come knocking on the door and subsequently offer advice and guidance bespoke to the charity – do your best to listen and implement.
But, the key is to not let it get that far. Trustees should:
- Familiarise themselves with your constitution as these are the set of rules you must follow;
- Do not be idle – be active. Each trustee must contribute in a collective effort and not be dictated by one or a few individuals; and
- Record, review and scrutinise everything (especially where it involves a personal benefit).