Regulator criticises religious charity’s former trustees for 'repeatedly' failing to file accounts

The former trustees of a religious charity have been criticised by the Charity Commission following an investigation sparked by their repeated failure to file accounting information.

The regulator first began looking into Middlesbrough Central Masjid and Community Centre as part of its double defaulter class inquiry, after it failed to submit its accounts and annual reports for the years ending December 2016 and 2017.

After these accounts were eventually submitted the charity was removed from the class inquiry, which is for those who fail to file their accounts for two consecutive years.

But “despite previous advice” the charity continued to fail to submit its accounting information to the regulator.

Its annual return for the year ending December 2019 was eventually handed in 180 days late but its trustee’s annual report was incomplete and gave no summary of the charity’s main achievements over the year.

“This meant it was not possible to have a clear picture of the charity’s activities and achievements,” said the regulator, which added that these late accounts also not have an independent examiner or auditor’s report included.

Accounts for the years ending December 2020 and 2021 were also not submitted on time. The accounts for 2020 were eventually handed in 508 days late, while the 2021 documents were 143 days late.

“This was despite engagement with the charity regarding the overdue accounts and the trustees being given several deadlines to file the charity’s outstanding accounting information,” said the regulator.

The charity’s current trustees had taken over from former trustees in 2020 in a bid to resolve the accounting issues and said that the Covid pandemic was a factor in their continued failure to submit the required information to the regulator on time.

The current trustees added they have reviewed the charity’s policies and identified areas of improvement.

The regulator praised the current trustees for cooperating “fully with the inquiry” and said it is “satisfied with the steps taken to prevent a recurrent of this failure”.

But it found that the charity’s former trustees “were responsible for misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

“The former trustees repeatedly failed to prepare and submit the necessary financial information,” added the regulator.

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