Inquiries by charity fraud watchdog recoup 23m pounds

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A RECORD number of charities have been caught flouting the rules, including fiddling their books, using unlawful fundraising techniques and dodging tax, it was disclosed yesterday, writes Jason Bennetto.

The Charity Commissioners said in their annual report, published yesterday, that they recovered about pounds 23m of funds and property after carrying out their highest number of investigations following complaints and allegations of malpractice.

Of 628 completed inquiries, they found 342 cases of abuse and wrongdoing. In one case, a charity's administrator stole about pounds 3m from the organisation's funds. In other incidents, groups set up bogus charities to dupe the public into donating money.

The charity watchdog body opened 864 investigations last year - 20 per cent more than in 1992. About 60 per cent of the cases of wrongdoing involved inadequate management or financial controls. About one in five involved deliberate malpractice and fundraising abuse.

Among the cases highlighted was an administrator who stole more than pounds 26,000 by forging trustees' signatures on the charity's cheque book. About pounds 3m was taken by the administrator of the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery Development Foundation.

The number of cases investigated by the commissioners has risen from 556 in 1991, to 718 in 1992, to 864 last year. The number of incidents of malpractice rose by 72 in 1993 from 270 in 1992.

The commissioners warned, however, that it was important to keep the figures in perspective - there are 170,000 registered charities and only a very small number require investigation.