Regulator scrutinises charity’s property transaction

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a South London based charity, Everlasting Arms Ministries, over serious concerns about its financial management

Set up in 2001, the charity’s aims are ‘to see the less privileged in our local community, who have the zeal to advance their career prospects, receive adequate help to succeed in their endeavour’. It operates a church and a food bank in Southwark. 

Income for the financial year 31 March 2017 was £314,046 while spending was listed as £956,148. Income the following year was £327,532 with spending of £899,946, while for the financial year ended 31 March 2019, income totalled £299,359 and spending £715,716.

The regulator said it is especially concerned about the charity’s sale in 2016 of a property on the Old Kent Road in South London, the proceeds of which appear not to be adequately reflected in the charity’s accounts for the following years.

The charity was subject to a books and records check at its premises in August 2019, which revealed further concerns, including that the charity did not have adequate records of its assets, despite significant expenditure on musical and audio-visual equipment.

There are also serious concerns about payments to individuals connected to the charity, including its trustees. The Commission has frozen the charity’s bank accounts, and ordered the trustees to provide information to the inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the administration, governance and management of the charity, including whether the charity’s funds have been used for solely charitable purposes, whether there has been unauthorised private benefit and whether the trustees have met their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

The inquiry opened on 30 December 2019 and the Commission will be publishing a report once it has concluded, detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were.

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