Regulator says it has strengthened its approach because of Cup Trust

The Charity Commission has today published its final report on the tax-avoidance charity after an investigation lasting almost six years

The Charity Commission says it has "significantly strengthened" its regulatory approach in the years after the exposure of the charitable tax-avoidance scheme the Cup Trust.

The regulator’s statement comes as it releases a report today concluding the commission’s investigation of the charity, which lasted almost six years.

The commission says that three former trustees of the now defunct charity – Matthew Jenner, Anthony Mehigan and Darren Stones – had been disqualified from acting as charity trustees for 15 years, dating back to 2017.

The Cup Trust had been the subject of a long-running statutory inquiry after it emerged in 2013 that it had raised £176.5m in private donations over two years but spent only £55,000 on good causes.

The charity had tried to claim £46m in Gift Aid and donors might have been entitled to claim another £55m in tax relief.

The commission’s report says the Cup Trust was set up as a grant-making charity, but made only £165,000 worth of grants before the inquiry was launched and an interim manager appointed to the charity in April 2013.

The charity was closed and removed from the charities register on 26 May 2017.

The commission found the corporate trustee of the Cup Trust, Mountstar Ltd, was responsible for "clear mismanagement and misconduct" and had failed to fulfil its legal duties as a trustee.

The regulator said there was a failure to manage a serious conflict of interest in the relationships between the corporate trustee and the individuals who devised the tax-avoidance scheme.

The regulator said in 2017 that Mountstar had been disqualified from acting as a charity trustee for 15 years.

Harvey Grenville, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, said today: "It is clear that this charity, through its involvement in an attempted tax-avoidance scheme, undermined public trust in charity generally.

"The commission has learnt from this case. Over recent years, we have significantly strengthened our approach to identifying and dealing with risks facing charities, have improved our pre and post-registration processes and are more proactive and robust in using our legal powers to ensure trustees comply with their legal duties and responsibilities."

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