Shetland charity's sole trustee convicted of embezzlement

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 13 September 2011

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Prosecution followed an investigation into Scalloway Public Hall by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

The only trustee of the charity Scalloway Public Hall, which runs a community hall in the Shetland Islands, has been convicted of embezzlement following an investigation by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, a report from the regulator reveals.

The conviction came after the OSCR reported its concerns to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The report does not name the trustee but Lerwick Sheriff Court confirmed that Sandra Reynolds pleaded guilty in July to embezzling £800 from the charity. She was ordered to pay £600 in compensation and a £500 fine.

The report says the OSCR opened an investigation into the charity after a complainant alleged in December 2008 that the charity had not produced any accounts for the past 10 or 12 years and had not held a meeting for a decade.

The report says the OSCR’s investigation found that "no meetings had been held by the charity for some considerable time" and "the charity’s financial records had not been properly maintained for several years".

It also says the investigation revealed that blank cheques were signed in advance, cash payments received were invariably not receipted and bank statements were not retained.

One person was in sole control of the charity, the report says, which meant it had been operating outside of its governing document. It also says the hall had not been properly maintained.

"We determined there to be serious misconduct in the administration of the charity," the report says.

The OSCR issued Reynolds with a suspension notice and directed the charity’s bankers not to permit any payments from its bank account without the regulator’s prior consent. The regulator also set up an interim management committee, appointed by local community organisations, to maintain the charity’s work.

When contacted by Third Sector, Reynolds said she was not interested in discussing the case and declined to comment further.

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