The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into an animal welfare charity it said has attracted public complaints and significant media and parliamentary interest.
The regulator has taken steps to freeze Capricorn Animal Rescue and Sanctuary's bank accounts in order to protect its assets, the commission said. Announcing the inquiry, the commission said its engagement has revealed “clear and on-going serious regulatory issues” with the charity.
Regulatory issues highlighted by the commission include inadequate financial controls, failure to safeguard and properly account for the charity’s assets, potential unauthorised trustee benefit and the trustees’ failure to act on regulatory advice.
The charity has objects to care for animals that have no homes, are injured or neglected, and re-home them or reintroduce them to the wild. It was last year the subject of a BBC investigation critical of the charity’s animal welfare standards.
Noting public complaints and political and media attention last year the commission provided regulatory advice to the charity on improving its governance.
However, monitoring the charity’s compliance highlighted the serious issues, the commission said.
The inquiry will examine the administration, governance and management of the charity and whether there has been any unauthorised benefit to trustees.
The regulator will also look at whether trustees have properly exercised their duties, in particular their duty to account for the charity’s funds.