Spiritualist Association 'surprised' by Charity Commission's inquiry

It says it acted in good faith and expects to be vindicated over the sale of its Belgravia property, which was re-sold soon afterwards at a much higher price

33 Belgrave Square, London
33 Belgrave Square, London

The Spiritualist Association of Great Britain has expressed its surprise at the Charity Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry after concerns were raised because it had sold its former London head office for substantially below its market value.

Last week the commission announced that it had opened an inquiry into the association on 8 July following the sale of its former headquarters in Belgrave Square, London. The charity sold the property for £6m in 2010 to a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, but it was sold shortly afterwards to another company based in the islands for £21m.

The charity said in a statement: "The association is surprised that the commission sought to take such action, given that the association has fully cooperated with all the questions raised by the commission in respect of the transaction, and has indicated that it is more than willing to continue to do so and has offered to meet the commission to discuss any points of issue.

"The trustees believe that they have acted always in good faith in respect of the transaction and that their position will be vindicated," the statement said.

The association also said in the statement that it had only been notified of the commission’s decision to open an inquiry on 5 August – 27 days after it had begun.

A spokeswoman for the commission said the delay was due to the regulator’s investigation team having to complete some initial assessment work.

The commission spokeswoman said: "Once the commission had made a decision to open a statutory inquiry into the affairs of the charity, it was necessary for the investigations team to review all available information, determine the scope of the inquiry and decide on what further information was required before writing to the charity.

"The time required to do this will be determined by the complexity of the issues involved and on a case-by-case basis."

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