Regulator begins statutory inquiry into education charity

The Charity Commission says it is investigating Jole Rider Friends after an independent examiner's report uncovered 'concerns surrounding potentially unauthorised payments'

The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into an education charity amid concerns about potentially unauthorised payments and persistently late accounts.

The regulator said in a statement today that it had opened a statutory inquiry into Jole Rider Friends, which provides facilities and equipment at educational establishments in Africa.

The charity’s accounts for the year to 29 March 2016, which were due to be filed with the regulator by the end of January, have not been supplied, according to the charity’s entry on the regulator’s online register.

The charity has been late in filing its documents for three of the past five years, the register shows.

Its most recently available accounts, for 2014/15, record an income of £204,461 and expenditure of £189,004.

The commission said in its statement that the charity’s 2014/15 accounts, which were filed three months late, contained an independent examiner’s report that highlighted "concerns surrounding potentially unauthorised payments and the charity’s stock control".

The independent examiner’s notes in the accounts say that payments to trustees had not been properly authorised, although the trustees were trying to rectify the situation.

But the document adds that the charity’s stock control was inadequate and, although trustees were aware of this, they did not consider it to be a material disadvantage to the charity’s operation or security.

A statement issued to Third Sector by the trustees of the charity said that although the reported infringements were very damning the trustees had no concerns about the eventual findings of the inquiry.

The statement was critical of the actions so far taken by the Charity Commission. "We believe the facts behind the story and the action by the commission, additional to launching the inquiry, are of high public interest," the statement said.

It said the trustees would make public this story and their criticism of the commission in due course.

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