Investigation of Dove Trust has cost Charity Commission £650,000

The Charity Commission’s investigation into the charity fundraiser the Dove Trust has cost the regulator £650,000 over six years, documents filed with the High Court show.

In an application submitted to the High Court in October, the commission has attempted to claw back some of its outgoings by claiming the trust’s £84,000 surplus should be used to cover the costs of the investigation and the interim manager.

The Dove Trust owned an online giving platform and has had an interim manager since 2013 as part of a Charity Commission investigation into its governance and financial management, which began in 2011.

The interim manager – Pesh Framjee from the accountancy firm Crowe – was, unusually, paid for by the Charity Commission during his six years in charge of the charity in order to maximise returns to creditors.

Interim managers are usually paid out of the charity’s funds, rather than by the regulator.

The High Court application requests that some of those costs are refunded to the commission because of the substantial outlay on the case: £650,000 over the six years. The regulator’s annual budget is £25m.

In 2013, the charity had £709,529 in the bank, against debts of almost £1.7m, the application says, and it was expected that 33p in the pound would be available to the trust’s creditors.

But after a better than expected recovery of money owed to the trust, including Gift Aid from HM Revenue & Customs, 68p in the pound was distributed to creditors, some of which no longer existed or did not claim their funds, according to the application.

This has left a surplus of £84,458, which the commission says in its court application should be used to offset some of the cost of the investigation and would be used as part of the commission’s operational budget.

A copy of the commission’s witness statement has been posted online to invite anyone affected to get in touch within 28 days.

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