The Charity Commisson has taken action against the Capricorn Animal Rescue and Sanctuary after expressing ‘continued concerns’ about the management and governance of the charity and has now appointed an interim manager
The Charity Commission has appointed an independent expert to Capricorn Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (inc Aston, Hawarden Animal Aid), in order to conduct an investigation into its operations. Guy Hollander of Mazars, the eighth largest UK accountancy firm, will take full control of day-to-day management and administration on a temporary basis, to be reviewed at regular intervals until the regulator makes further decisions. Mr Hollander’s duties will be to oversee day-to-day operations and establish the future viability of its operations.
The Commission began a statutory inquiry into the operations of Capricorn in February 2017 with a view to examining regulatory concerns over the governance of the charity, which included potential unauthorised trustee benefit. It will also determine whether trustees have fully exercised their responsibilities under charity law.
Capricorn’s stated aims were to take neglected or injured animals into care with the intent of rehousing them or releasing them back into the wild. Based in Wales, the charity was reportedly responsible for 350 animals in two sites near Mold. Significant media and parliamentary interest in the charity was generated in 2016 following a number of complaints from the public and a BBC Wales investigation for the Week In Week Out programme regarding alleged poor conditions at a facility in Padeswood. A former volunteer alleged that funds intended for animal feed had been spent at a local wholesaler on alcohol and other goods. While the Charity Commission initially provided regulatory advice and guidance to the trustees and monitored subsequent changes, the regulator was moved to act after inspecting the charity’s records in late 2016. It had by this time established the existence of inadequate financial controls and serious regulatory issues.
Harvey Grenville, Head of Investigations and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said:
‘We are not satisfied that the current governance procedures and practices are working properly, or are likely to be rectified by the trustees.
‘A decision by the Charity Commission to appoint an interim manager is not taken lightly and reflects the seriousness of our regulatory concerns.’
The Commission has also taken the necessary steps to freeze the charity’s bank accounts under section 76(3)(d) of the Charities Act 2011. It has said that it is aware that members of the public have expressed concerns relating to the welfare of animals in the charity’s care, but as such concerns do not fall within its remit it directs concerned parties to contact the RSPCA. A full report, detailing what issues the regulator is investigating, will be published following the conclusion of the inquiry.
Report by James Bunney