20 March 2018
A statutory inquiry into Africa Relief Trust has been opened by the Charity Commission to assess whether the charity’s trustees have properly discharged their trustee duties.
The charity was the subject of a regulatory compliance case in September 2011 after concerns were raised about its business rates relief arrangements. During the case the Commission became increasingly concerned about the risks to the charity’s assets and about the trustees’ failure to provide comprehensive information. At the same time, two recent court judgments have found that two registered charities were not making sufficient use of their premises for charitable purposes to qualify for business rates relief. The Commission subsequently issued a statement to all charities to highlight the risks associated with business rates relief and has now opened its statutory inquiry into Africa Relief Trust, in particular.
The purpose of the inquiry is ‘to examine regulatory concerns including whether the charity trustees have properly dischargedtheir trustee duties when making decisions to enter into tenancy agreements and occupy those properties to further their charitable purposes and whether any benefit to the landlord of other parties is incidental to that’. It is expected that a report will be published after the investigation has concluded.