The commission said in a statement that the charity’s trustees had submitted a serious incident report in late June about several matters, including a proposed reorganisation involving a transfer of charity assets and a trading arrangement with a newly formed private company.
The commission said it subsequently identified serious concerns about the charity’s governance, aspects of its financial controls and the proposed organisational changes. The commission said the proposed arrangements posed "a potential risk to the charity’s assets since it was unclear if the changes were in the best interests of the charity". These concerns prompted the commission to open a statutory inquiry on 1 July.
The STA’s objects include the promotion of effective teaching of swimming, life-saving and survival techniques. Its latest published accounts show it had an income of £2.2m, mainly generated from education and training, and spent £2.2m for the financial year to 31 May 2014. The commission’s register shows that the STA employed 51 staff in 2014.
The commission inquiry will examine the charity’s management and governance arrangements, including trustees’ involvement in the recruitment and remuneration of senior managers. It will also examine whether the charity claimed rates relief improperly for property it owned, the charity’s financial controls, particularly relating to its use of expenses, and whether there has been misconduct or mismanagement of the charity by trustees and its staff.
The commission said that trustees had been cooperating with it since submitting the serious incident report and were taking steps to help address concerns.
The STA said in a statement that its trustees immediately notified the Charity Commission when at the end of June they became aware of a number of serious issues relating to the management of the charity. The statement said: "Trustees now continue to work with and be fully supportive of the Charity Commission while it carries out its independent inquiry – in the best interests of STA, the trustees have taken every possible step to help address the concerns raised.
"We can absolutely reassure you that the trustees, with the support of the senior management team, are continuing to ensure the smooth operation of STA and it will continue to provide the highest standard of service and training to members and customers."