Interim manager at religious charity with ‘significant losses’

The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries International, after the regulator identified ongoing governance issues at the charity

Smith & Williamson restructuring and insolvency partner Adam Stephens will assume responsibility for the running of all non-religious elements of the charity’s business.

In March 2018, the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry examining a number of concerns at the north London based charity which exists to promote Christianity.

These included the repeated late filing of financial information, and a failure in administration which resulted in opportunities for significant losses to the charity to occur. Its accounts for 2014 and 2015 were qualified by its auditors.

The Commission says it is concerned over the trustees’ unwillingness to report serious incidents. The inquiry found two alleged incidents of fraud by former employees involving significant sums, both of which were not reported until a number of years after the frauds were discovered.

While a small percentage of the stolen funds have been recovered, the charity continues to suffer a significant loss. In addition to this, the Commission has serious concerns over the charity’s chair of trustees and his personal handling of serious incidents.

The Commission also has questions over the governance of the charity. Three trustees are paid, which is in breach of the charity’s governing document and causes conflict when employment matters are discussed.

Despite the Commission’s continued engagement, it said the trustees are still not complying with their legal duties, including failing to submit accurate financial accounts on time.

In response, the Commission has appointed an interim manager whose remit includes reviewing the charity’s financial and governance processes and inspecting a number of the charity’s branches and their handling of serious incidents. The interim manager assumes these duties at the exclusion of the charity’s trustees; the trustees retain control over matters relating to religious activities.

The Commission’s inquiry continues.

Pat Sweet | 05-08-2019

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