Regulator probes Sheffield educational charity’s finances

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into educational charity Avicenna Global due to concerns over potential misconduct and mismanagement at the Sheffield-based charity

The Commission had previously opened a regulatory compliance case after serious allegations were made regarding the financial conduct of one of the charity’s trustees. As part of this case, the Commission inspected the charity’s records and found a number of serious regulatory concerns.

The charity’s relationship with Avicenna Academy School, located in Sheffield, is unclear. The Commission is concerned that the school may have previously been operated by the charity before it was transferred to a trustee.

The Commission is also concerned about the charity’s current board and its ability to manage conflicts of interest and make independent decisions, particularly given that two of the four trustees are siblings and a third is their brother-in-law. A relative of a trustee has also been the independent examiner on the charity’s accounts.

The inquiry will determine whether the Avicenna Academy School was ever owned and operated by the charity.

If Avicenna Academy School was but is no longer part of the charity, the Commission will determine whether the decision to transfer the school to a third party was made lawfully, in accordance with the charity’s governing document and in the best interests of the charity.

In addition, the inquiry will seek to establish whether there has been any unauthorised trustee benefit, and whether the trustees have exercised their duties as trustees in the governance of the charity, in particular their duty to account for the charity’s funds and the management of conflicts of interest.

The charity’s accounts for the 2015 and 2016 financial year ends show income and expenditure of around £100,000, while its most recent accounts report income of £340 and expenditure of £10.

After the inquiry has concluded, the regulator will publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were.

Pat Sweet | 18-07-2019

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