UK commission investigates Sikh charity over ‘serious financial mismanagement’ claims

Regulator opens statutory inquiry into the education charity, Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar, for failing to accounts for last two financial years

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| UK | 20 May 2016 | Asia Samachar |
A magazine published by the Civil Society Media
A magazine published by the Civil Society Media

A charity with aims to promote the Sikh faith has been accused by the Charity Commission of serious financial mismanagement after it defaulted on its loans and faced enforcement action by the local council.

The regulator announced today it has opened a statutory inquiry into the education charity, Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar, after it failed to file any accounts for the last two financial years. Annual reports for the year 2012-13 – filed in December 2015 – further revealed evidence of “weak and informal financial controls” and “unsatisfactory record keeping”, the regulator said.

The regulator said “serious concerns” have been raised about the financial management of the charity, its administration and the conduct of the trustees.

A primary concern resulted from the charity’s actions over a football ground in Hayes, which was bought to build a school. But the trustees failed to obtain planning permission and subsequently decided to build a temporary car park on the land. However, they also failed to obtain planning permission for the car park, resulting in enforcement action by the London Borough of Hillingdon.

An appeal was lodged against the enforcement action but the Commission said the charity’s actions nonetheless raised concerns about the use of the site and failure to protect the charity’s assets.

Further concerns were raised about two nearby sites, which were used for school buildings, and used as securities against loans and mortgages. The trustees subsequently defaulted on those loans, resulting in a “significant risk to the charity’s property”, the regulator said.

The Commission said its investigation will centre around the charity’s “administration, governance, management, financial controls and whether the trustees complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law”.

Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar aims to promote the Sikh religion by providing facilities for education, study and worship. It owns land which is used by its Guru Nanak Multi Academy Trust for an academy school and runs three Gudwaras, providing courses, events and multi-faith conferences.

According the the Charity Commission’s webite, its last recorded annual income was £2.1m for the year ending 31 March 2013, with a spend of £656,000 for the same year. It employs six staff members and 20 volunteers.

A spokeswoman for the charity told Civil Society News the charity’s trustees were “co-operating with the Commission in order to address the concerns that have been raised”

“The trustees recognise that there were historic weaknesses in their governance structure and since their initial engagement with the Commission have already taken significant steps to strengthen their governance processes. They are continuing to improve their governance arrangements and striving to comply with best practice,” she said.

 

Original article by Emily Corfe, entitled ‘Commission investigates Sikh charity over ‘serious financial mismanagement’ claims’ appeared on 11 May 2016 at CivilSociety.co.uk. The portal is run by Civil Society Media, an UK-based independent news, publishing and events company focused entirely on charities and other civil society organisations.

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The suggestion by Dr Bains should be welcomed by all Gurdwaras and Sikh NGOs. Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) should lead by example as only then the MGC will have the moral right to require other Gurdwaras to be transparent with their financial management. Restricting info is not enough transparency as non members also support them financially. SNSM as the largest SIKH NGO should show other NGOs by example. PJ and Tatt Khalsa gurdwaras may hsve the most funds after the Malacca Gurdwara and Sant Sohan Singh NGO and should lead in transparency as only then the smaller ones may follow.
    It may be noted that the ‘Small’ gurdwaras may be small but some of them have building or renovations costing millions of RM and thus the need for transparency may be greater.
    May WAHE GURU JI BLESS ALL.

    Gurdwaras a d Sikh NGOs should have we sites on which the monthly but at least quarterly financial statements can be made available for all the Sanggat to see and not restricted to members.

  2. Its pertinent for all Sikh NGO including the Gurdwara Committees, particularly those very busy Gurdwaras to practice transparent account system. GOOD LESSON TO LEARN FROM THE UK SITUATION. Being transparent is important, as its is an obligation of all committee members to be responsible of the accoints. This will avoid many future complications that could lead to fights at the DARBAR SAHIB, which infact is already getting surfaced in many of our Sikh Gurdwaras. This is bringing shame not only to the other communities but to our young generation. Let’s not make this to be yet anothet reason, for our young generation to abondon Gurdwaras. Monthly expenses and income to reach all members every month would be very important. Now that everything can be done via media. If someone can develop simple accounting softwear to this NGO activities, which i believe must be available easily understood by common member, would be of great benefit.

  3. I hope local Gurdwaras and Sikh NGOs will become TRANSPARENT and make their FINANCIAL STATMENTS PUBLIC to show that they are practising ACCOUNTABILITY. Lack of this culture gives rise MISMANAGEMENT-FRAUD-CORRUPTION-BRIBERY-KICKBACKS RISKS.
    Let this UK case be a eye opner to Sikh Sanggat and Managements of Gurdwaras and NGOs as it is a common perception that these risks may exist in some of them.
    ACT NOW AND PREVENT LOSS OF FUNDS AND CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS..

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