Charity investigated over ‘significant’ unaccounted funds

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into The Bersam Trust to look into concerns over potential misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity

The charity, which operates from the Salford area, has objects which include providing children with a strictly orthodox Jewish religious education and advancing orthodox Jewish practice.

The Commission has examined the charity’s annual accounts and obtained records from the charity’s bank account. It found significant discrepancies between the financial activity recorded in the accounts and the values of funds entering and leaving the charity’s bank accounts, raising serious concern.

The Commission’s accountancy analysis also identified that comparative figures in the accounts do not match those in the previous year’s accounts and differences are not supported by explanation from the independent examiner.

The Commission has therefore taken protective regulatory action to freeze the charity’s bank accounts.

The inquiry will examine the governance, management and administration of the charity. It will focus particularly on the financial management of the charity, and whether funds have been properly expended solely for exclusively charitable purposes and can be accounted for.

It will examine whether loans involving the charity are in accordance with its governing document and have been properly accounted for, and whether the trustees’ have complied with legal obligations for the content and preparation of the charity’s accounts and other information or returns.

The inquiry will also assess whether the trustees may have knowingly or recklessly provided the Commission with information which is false or misleading, and whether they have avoided or adequately managed potential conflicts of interest, and if there has been any direct or indirect private benefit.

The Commission previously engaged with the charity in respect of regulatory concerns regarding governance issues, and provided regulatory advice and guidance to the trustees in the form of an action plan. The inquiry will also examine the extent to which the trustees have complied with previously issued regulatory guidance.

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.

Report by Pat Sweet

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