A defunct charity chaired by the prominent Brexiteer Arron Banks risked misleading the public after discrepancies emerged between the income stated on the charity’s accounts and that which appeared on its website, the Charity Commission has found.
A case report on the Love Saves the Day Foundation, published by the regulator today, says the charity’s annual return showed it had no income or expenditure for the year to 31 May 2016, but the charity’s website indicated it had made significant donations to a number of projects during that period.
The report says the commission was concerned that the information in the accounts and on the website did not correspond with one another, and decided to examine the charity’s records.
That examination found a "discrepancy" between the information on the website and that in the accounts and annual report, the report says.
Banks said any suggestion of inadequate management or administration at the charity, which was removed from the register of charities last month, was "utter rubbish".
The case report says the commission was also aware that the charity was due to receive a £10,000 donation when it was set up in 2015, but there was no explanation of what happened to the money in the charity’s 2016 or 2017 accounts.
Upon inspecting the charity’s bank accounts, the regulator found that the £10,000 was never received, and was told by the trustees that the money was instead transferred by the donor to another charity with similar objectives.
The trustees also told the commission that the donations on the website were provided by one of the trustees in a personal capacity, the report says, and the trustee had also funded visits carried out by the charity.
The commission was told by the trustees that the charity was inactive and they had taken the decision to close the charity.
The charity’s trustees, according to the commission, had not properly accounted for all its charitable funds by failing to declare in the accounts the money provided by the trustee.
The regulator’s report says this amounted to a "serious flaw in the administration of this charity", but the regulator "obtained satisfactory evidence which allowed us to verify and reassure the public that charitable funds had been used appropriately".
The charity was removed from the register on 31 May 2018 and its website is now offline.
Third Sector was unable to contact Banks for comment, but he told the BBC that any suggestion the trustees of the charity fell short of expectations with inadequate management and administration was "utter rubbish".
The charity, he said, had closed because of difficulties relating to its advisory law firm acting as a trustee.
"It's precisely because the trustees recognised their legal duties and responsibilities that we decided to shut the charity down, and to suggest otherwise is world-class tosh," he said.