Charity Commission begins statutory inquiry into Jewish charity

The Park Charitable Trust sustained losses of £1.1m on investment assets in the year to March 2013; the regulator is investigating this and the charity's governance

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a Jewish charity that lost large amounts of investment capital and potentially gave unauthorised benefits to trustees.

The inquiry, announced today by the regulator, is investigating the loss of investment capital by the Park Charitable Trust, which has objects that include the advancement of the Jewish faith and education.

Registered in 2002, the charity is funded by donations and income from investments and gives out grants, mostly to institutions.

But during the year to March 2013 it had losses of £1.1m on investment assets, compared with £29,000 the previous year, according to its most recent accounts. The accounts say the losses "represent value written off property investment syndicates".

The charity paid out £217,464 in grants in 2012/13, but spent £2.6m on governance costs, most of which went toward interest payments.

The trust’s income during that year was £3m, compared with £847,000 in the year to March 2012.  About £2.7m of the £3m total income came from investments.

The commission’s inquiry, which was opened on 13 June, will examine the charity’s approach to investments and the trustees’ decision-making and governance, particularly with regards to conflicts of interest.

Two of the charity’s three trustees are also trustees of other charities. David Hammelburger works with the Jewish education charity Project Seed; Eli Pine helps to govern the FP Limited Charitable Trust.

When contacted by telephone, Pine said: "I have no idea who you are and I’m not interested in talking to you." The other trustees could not be reached for comment.

As well as seeking to promote the Jewish faith and education, the Park Charitable Trust has among its objectives to relieve poverty among the Jewish community, relieve patients suffering from cancer and heart conditions and to provide financial support to hospitals.

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