The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into an animal rescue charity because of concerns that include potential unauthorised trustee benefit and inadequate financial controls.
According to the commission, Capricorn Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, which is based in north Wales and takes homeless, injured or neglected animals into care, had been the subject of complaints from the public, as well as media and parliamentary interest.
The commission said in a statement today that, as a result, it provided regulatory advice and guidance to the trustees to improve its governance.
But during a visit to the charity in October and an inspection of the charity’s books and records, the commission found there were "clear and ongoing serious regulatory issues" in the trustees’ administration of the charity, which led to the opening of the statutory inquiry.
The commission said the regulatory issues included inadequate financial controls, failure to safeguard and properly account for the charity’s assets, potential unauthorised trustee benefit and the trustees’ failure to act on regulatory advice.
The inquiry will examine the charity’s management, governance and administration, the potential unauthorised benefit to trustees and whether the trustees have exercised their duties and responsibilities under charity law.
The commission has also frozen the charity’s bank accounts.
According to the Charity Commission website, Capricorn Animal Rescue and Sanctuary had an income of £248,457 and expenditure of £266,797 in the year to 31 December 2015.
The commission’s website also shows that the charity has been late in filing its accounts with the regulator in each of the past five years.
The commission said it was aware of concerns from the public about the charity’s care of animals, but said this issue fell outside the regulator’s remit and such concerns should be directed to the RSPCA.
Last year the Charity Commission’s response to a Freedom of Information request from Third Sector revealed that Capricorn Animal Welfare and Sanctuary was one of the top ten most-complained-about charities in 2015, with the commission opening four complaint cases into it.
No one at the charity responded to a request for comment.