Regulator launches inquiries into two wildlife charities

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Howletts Wild Animal Trust over serious concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management, while it is also examining the Aspinall Trust

The Howletts charity has a mission to promote education in zoology, and the conservation of wildlife. It runs two wildlife parks in Kent.

For year end December 2019, the charity reported total income of £16.3m and has 306 employees, four trustees and 128 volunteers.

The regulator began looking into the charity in December 2019 due to concerns about the charity’s management of conflicts of interest and a related-party transaction. The trustees have co-operated fully with the Commission since it first engaged with them last year.

The Commission still has concerns about related party transactions, meaning that it is now necessary to examine these issues as part of a formal statutory inquiry. The inquiry will further examine the concerns identified at the charity, including:

  • the administration, governance and management of the Charity by the trustees with specific regard to how conflicts of interest have been dealt with and managed and the charity’s management of related party transactions; and
  • whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

The regulator may extend the scope of the inquiry if additional regulatory issues emerge.

The opening of an inquiry is not a finding of wrongdoing. 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.

At the same time, the Charity Commission has launched an investigation into the Aspinall Trust, a charity promoting animal conservation with objectives to promote education in zoology and to conserve wild animals in danger of extinction. The latest accounts show that the charity raised £2.8m in income in 2019 and has 19 staff members and six trustees.

The regulator began examining the charity in July 2020 over concerns about the management of conflicts of interest and related-party transactions.

It opened a regulatory compliance case and began engaging with the trustees regarding these concerns in November of last year, and the trustees have been fully co-operating with the Commission. Since that time, the regulator has identified further questions regarding the charity’s governance, and it will now examine all these issues as part of a formal statutory inquiry.

The Aspinall inquiry will examine:

  • the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees with specific regard to how conflicts of interest have been dealt with and managed;
  • whether or not there has been any unauthorised trustee benefit; and
  • whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

The regulator may extend the scope of the inquiry if additional regulatory issues emerge.

Sara White |Editor, Accountancy Daily, published by Croner-i

Sara White is editor of Accountancy Daily, published by Croner-i, and in...

View profile and articles

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Rate this article

Related Articles
Subscribe