Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire Catalyst Trust charity boss banned over £60K payments

The main trustee of a loans charity has been banned from managing charities after unexplained transactions of more than £60,000 were made.

A Charity Commission inquiry into Hampshire-based Catalyst Trust found all trustees were responsible for misconduct and mismanagement.

It also found loans were given to firms the main trustee had a personal interest in or connection to.

The charity, which the BBC has tried to contact, was wound up in November.

"This inquiry was hindered by the failure of the 'dominant trustee' to fully cooperate with the commission," Harvey Grenville, head of investigations and enforcement at the commission, said.

"Despite this attempt to frustrate our investigation we have been able to take strong action and remove this individual to protect charities from abuse."

'Poor governance'

The unnamed main trust can no longer act the management of any charity, the commission said.

The inquiry into the trust, which provided project management, advice, loans, grants and guarantees to charities, began in June 2014.

It followed a complaint from a member of the public in 2013 over rental payments of a property the charity owned, as well as the £60,000 of unexplained transactions uncovered in February 2014 during the commission's inspection.

This prompted concerns about the accuracy of the accounts because the charity had not declared an income of more than £25,000 in its annual return, the commission said.

Out of an income of about £71,000, between 2009 and 2013, the inquiry found only £2,217 was described by the trustees as "direct charitable expenditure".

However, it also discovered £2,050 of that was paid to a private firm to develop a software project that was found not to be charitable.

The commission found the trustees failed to manage conflicts of interest and that there was "evidence of both poor governance and poor financial management".

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