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Cup Trust says its £46m Gift Aid claim is 'more than likely to succeed'

The accounts of the tax avoidance vehicle say it disagrees with HM Revenue & Customs and the matter is likely to be settled in the tribunal or court

The corporate trustee of the tax avoidance vehicle the Cup Trust still believes it will succeed in claiming more than £46m of Gift Aid, according to the charity’s most recent accounts.

The trust’s accounts for the year to March 2013 say that HM Revenue & Customs is investigating claims made in 2010 and 2011.

"HM Revenue & Customs have confirmed that payment to the charity is being withheld pending the closure of their enquiries," the accounts say. "The trustee does not expect to receive any of the monies claimed for at least three years and possibly longer."

But the accounts say the trustee is confident of success, even though it has been told by HMRC that it does not believe the charity’s claims will "give rise to payment".

"Having previously considered expert legal advice from counsel, the trustee is still of the opinion that these claims are more than likely to succeed," the accounts say.

"It is likely that ultimately the tribunal and courts shall decide whether claims are valid," the accounts say.

The Cup Trust received more than £176m in donations but spent only £55,000 on charitable causes over two years. The remainder of its income was spent on buying bonds that were sold to donors at a fraction of their real value.

If the Cup Trust’s claim for Gift Aid succeeded, donors to the Cup Trust could be entitled to claim another £54m in tax relief.

The charity has a single corporate trustee, Mountstar PTC, which is based in the British Virgin Islands.

But since the accounts were published the Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the charity and appointed Jonathan Burchfield, a partner at the law firm Stone King, to act as an interim manager. This decision has been challenged by the Cup Trust at the charity tribunal.

The corporate trustee has been stripped of its power to act and all decisions will be taken by the interim manager. It is likely, however, that if the commission finds no wrongdoing the corporate trustee will be reinstated.

The accounts also showed that the Cup Trust made £97,000 of donations to charities for "children and young adults", and has just £20,000 left in reserves. It had an income of £5,000 during the year, which came from a single donation, as well as £156 of bank interest.

The charity also said in its accounts that all £46m in Gift Aid it has so far applied for, if successfully claimed, will be applied for charitable purposes.

Stone King has said it will not comment on any issues relating to the Cup Trust, including which charities it has made grants to. A statement on the Cup Trust website says that it will in future list all grants the charity makes.

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