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Higher education college made 'unauthorised payments' to companies connected to trustees

Third Sector Online, 19 February 2013

Charity Commision

Charity Commision

According to a Charity Commission report, there were significant failings in the management of finances at AA Hamilton College

A higher education college has established tighter financial controls after an investigation by the Charity Commission found "significant failings" in how it manages it finances.

These included a number of unauthorised payments made to companies connected to two trustees who were also employed by the college and were a married couple.

The AA Hamilton College, a charity that provides higher education to UK and international students in central London, was first investigated by the commission in January 2011 after a complaint was made by a member of the public.

In light of the findings, the commission issued an action plan to the college containing a number of recommendations. However, trustees failed to properly address any of the commission’s concerns and the investigation was escalated to a statutory inquiry in July 2011.

According to the commission’s inquiry report, published today, there were "significant failings in the record-keeping and financial controls at the charity". The regulator also found evidence of payments being made by the college to private companies connected to two of its three trustees. According to the report, the two trustees who had received "a number of unauthorised payments" were the college’s principal and its marketing manager, who were a married couple.

Once the college’s trustees were alerted to the situation, both the principal and the marketing manager stopped receiving any more funds. Two new trustees were then appointed, and both the principal and marketing manager resigned from their positions as trustees and left their paid positions.

The commission advised the new trustees that they could seek repayment of some or all of the unauthorised payments, but they decided not to do so.

In a statement, the commission said: "The commission concluded that the trustees had complied with the revised plan and introduced significant improvements to the management of the charity. Having considered a number of issues, the new, non-conflicted trustees took the decision not to seek repayment of the unauthorised payments made."

No-one from AA Hamilton College was available for comment.

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