Military charity wound up after donations siphoned off to private firm

The Charity Commission has ordered the closure of a military charity after it emerged that more than two thirds of its fundraising income was handed to a private firm with family links to a trustee.

The regulator’s inquiry into Support the Heroes opened six years ago amid concerns around potential conflicts of interest, with the company Targeted Management Limited (TML).

It has emerged that one of the charity’s two trustees, who are sisters, was the long-term partner of the father of the only director of TML, which was involved in the formation of the charity.

TML received 67% of the gross proceeds of money raised from the public through fundraising activity, the regulator found.

Because the bulk of this income was handed to the firm, less than a fifth (18%) of the charity’s income was donated to charitable causes between 2015 and 2017.

This arrangement with TML was made by one trustee without the approval of her sister, and without declaring a conflict of interest.

The regulator says that “the public were misled by the charity’s fundraising activities and, as a result, were unable to make an informed decision whether to donate to the charity”.

The charity has been removed from the register and its remaining funds have been redistributed to Help the Heroes.

Support the Heroes’ two trustees have been banned from leading charities for five years.

“Donors have a reasonable expectation that the money they give reaches the cause they care about,” said Charity Commission head of investigations Amy Spiller.

“Due to a complete lack of transparency about the fundraising arrangements, the charity misled the public and much of the money went to a private company instead of military veterans and serving personnel in need.”

She added: “Cases like these have the potential to seriously undermine trust and confidence in charities generally.

“So it is right that we took robust action to ensure the charity was removed from the register and its trustees cannot lead other charities for a period of five years.”

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