Regulator appoints interim manager for the Dove Trust

The Charity Commission suspends CharityGiving website and says the trust, which owns the site, had 'stopped cooperating' with its inquiry

CharityGiving
CharityGiving

The Charity Commission has suspended the online giving website CharityGiving and appointed an interim manager to run the Dove Trust, the charity that owns the site.

The commission said in a statement that it had used its powers under the Charities Act 2011 to appoint Pesh Framjee of Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP as interim manager of the Dove Trust on 6 June this year.

The regulator said that Framjee had decided to suspend the website in order to protect funds raised by the public and prevent further charitable pledges being made through it.

"The action was taken by the charity’s interim manager after careful consideration and consultation with the Charity Commission as part of the commission’s statutory inquiry into the Dove Trust," the statement said.

"On 28 June, due to the risk to charitable funds, the commission acted to restrict the charity’s bank accounts. This morning the Charity Commission has made an order to give the interim manager full control of the charity to the exclusion of the charity’s trustees."

It said that the interim manager found that there appeared to be a shortfall between the funds due to charities that had been donated to through CharityGiving and the cash held by the Dove Trust.

The commission opened a regulatory compliance case into the Dove Trust in January 2011 because of concerns over its governance and financial management. According to the commission’s website at the time, the charity had not filed any accounts with it since 2006.

In June 2011 Keith Colman, a trustee of the charity, told Third Sector that the accounts had not been filed because of a dispute with its former auditor over fees – now resolved – and Colman’s own personal circumstances. But he said that they should be filed with the commission "soon after" 21 June 2011.

A commission spokeswoman told Third Sector that it then opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in August 2011, and it received accounts for 2007, 2008, and 2009 from the charity in August 2012. It has not received any other accounts since then.

Since opening the inquiry, she said, the commission had engaged with the charity’s trustees in a number of ways to try to avoid appointing an interim manager. "They gave us numerous reassurances," she said. "But then they stopped cooperating." Appointing an interim manager had been a last resort, she said.

The independent auditor’s report in the last accounts the charity filed with the commission, from 2009, says it is unable to form an opinion of whether the financial statements "give a true and fair view" and whether they have been prepared in accordance with the Charities Act 2011. The accounts also include details of debts, including one of £47,884 due from Keith Colman FS Ltd.

Framjee told Third Sector that his team’s priority was to understand the financial position of the charity. He said he was in the process of setting up a call with the trustees and that the charity’s six staff continued to be employed by it and were helping him.

He said he was also trying to work out a way to enable people and charities who are raising money through the site to start fundraising again as soon as possible.

The charity’s trustees were unavailable for comment.

The commission’s statement said that any donors or charities who were concerned about the suspension of the site should contact DoveTrustInterimManager@crowecw.co.uk or telephone 0207 842 7313.

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