Commission investigates charity over list of ‘serious concerns’

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The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a charity over “serious regulatory concerns that the charity has not been properly managed by its trustees, as a result of an internal dispute”.

The regulator has opened an investigation into Asthan Babe Ke Trust over concerns about whether the trustees have “sufficient oversight and control over the charity’s funds, payments and records given that the charity is seemingly controlled and administered by an executive committee who manage the charity’s cash funds”.

It said it is also concerned about the management of the charity’s freehold assets of almost £1.8m. The regulator has advised the trustees to vest its UK property in the official custodian, a corporation created by statute to hold land on behalf of charities. However it says that the trustees have so far failed to do so.

A regulatory compliance case was opened in 2017 after concerns were raised regarding allegations of personal benefits, unmanaged conflicts of interest, invalid appointment of trustees, undeclared income and poor financial controls.

The Commission then set the charity an action plan to help the trustees resolve the dispute and issues raised which included commencing a mediation process.

It said that the charity’s trustees have “failed to make any meaningful progress against the regulator’s action plan”. As a result the Commission has opened a statutory inquiry to address its concerns.

Asthan Babe Ke Trust’s objects include advancing the Sikh religion and education, the relief of poverty, and the provision of facilities for social recreation and elderly care facilities in the region of the West Midlands and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

The inquiry will examine the governance, management and administration of the charity by its trustees. In particular, this will look at: whether the trustees have exercised sufficient oversight and control of the charity, especially with regards to its assets; whether the trustees are willing/capable of managing the charity in accordance with its governing document; whether the trustees have complied with previously issued regulatory guidance; and whether connected party transactions have been properly managed.

The charity had not responded to an invitation to comment at the time of publication.

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