Two charity trustees convicted for fraud and deception offences earlier this year stole a total of £245,000 from two charities, a report from the Charity Commission shows.
The report into the London educational charities Brent Educational and Recreational Support Youth Challenge and Gate Lane Community, also says there had been "serious mismanagement and misconduct in the administration of Bears".
The regulator opened an inquiry into both charities in 2007 after discovering that Bears – which shared two trustees with Gate Lane – had failed to carry out a full audit for the financial years 2004 and 2005.
The regulator’s inquiries into Bears and Gate Lane revealed that Ingrid Sambrook, the director of Bears and a former trustee of Gate Lane, had used the charity’s cheque book to misappropriate £83,000 from the charity’s bank account with the collaboration of Patrick Lewis, the chair of Bears’ trustees and a co-signatory.
It was also discovered that Sambrook and Lewis had moved £162,000 of funding awarded to Bears to a bank account they established in 2000 for a private company with an identical name to Bears.
The report says a payment of £32,000 was made by Bears to Gate Lane for the provision of training by Gate Lane for Bears beneficiaries, but there was insufficient evidence that any training had taken place.
It also says payments totalling £16,000 were made by Bears to a hotel company, purportedly for charitable activities held at an Isle of Wight hotel, but there was insufficient evidence that the activities had actually happened.
Lewis and Sambrook were convicted of a number of theft and deception offences in March. Lewis was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, and Sambrook was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, plus 240 hours of unpaid work.
Both organisations have been removed from the register of charities because Bears is no longer operational and Gate Lane was dissolved.