The Charity Commission has said it was not informed of allegations of financial impropriety made against the former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council in 2013 and now had potentially serious concerns.
An article in The Jewish Chronicle, published yesterday, claimed that Jeremy Newmark, who stepped down as chief executive of the charity in 2013, had left amid allegations of inappropriately claimed expenses.
The Jewish Chronicle claimed to have seen an internal audit that alleged Newmark had withdrawn thousands of pounds of unaccounted-for cash on JLC credit and debit cards while failing to provide receipts to justify this expenditure.
Newmark, who is now chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, has denied the allegations, saying: "It is easy to take things out of context and try to create a picture that is removed from reality."
The commission said it had not been informed of the allegations, but it was aware of the media reports about the JLC.
A commission spokeswoman said: "The commission was not previously aware of the allegations, which raise serious potential regulatory concerns. We are assessing these, including by contacting the charity as a matter of urgency."
In a statement on the charity’s website, Sir Mick Davis, chief executive of the Conservative Party, who was chair of the charity at the time the alleged incidents took place, said: "Jeremy resigned due to ill health and the trustees agreed, with due regard to his welfare and that of his family, that no further action was warranted."
Davis said he had acted at all times with the full knowledge and support of the rest of the board.
"As soon as the board of trustees became aware of the issues, it acted immediately and in accordance with the advice it received," he said.
"Individual trustees ensured that the JLC’s accounts were made good and whole."
Simon Johnson, the current chief executive of the JLC, said he had been made aware of the matter as soon as he was appointed and was satisfied that the chair at the time acted at all times with the knowledge and full support of the trustees.
He said he had put additional measures in place to enhance and improve the JLC’s financial control procedures and had established best-practice conflict-of-interest procedures and reporting of related-party transactions.
Newmark responded to the allegations in an article on The Jewish Chronicle’s website today, in which he said he did not accept that he had billed the charity inappropriately and he did not withdraw unaccounted-for cash.