Charity that claimed it was installing IT suites in Caribbean schools closed down

Some of the donations collected by Grove Mountain were spent on fast food, the Charity Commission found

UNPROVEN CLAIMS: Grove Mountain said it was sending IT equipment to schools in Jamaica

A CHARITY that said it was building a bathroom and installing IT suites at Jamaican schools has been closed down after these claims could not be proven and it failed to show how donations were being spent, the Charity Commission has revealed.

The regulator has found two Grove Mountain trustees responsible for serious misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity, and removed them as trustees. Grove Mountain has now been closed down.

The Charity Commission opened an inquiry into the charity in 2017, after a third party raised concerns about its financial arrangements. Money was gifted to the charity via collection boxes and donations from the public.

The charity’s website claimed that it shipped books for libraries and computer equipment for primary schools to Jamaica. This claim was repeated in its annual report.

The charity’s Facebook page also claimed the charity was building a bathroom facility and an ICT suite for an unnamed school, or schools, in Jamaica.

However, the Commission’s inquiry found the trustees had no records of any beneficiaries of the charity and no evidence any of the activities stated online by the charity had actually taken place despite considerable expenditure of the charity’s funds in cash transactions.

It also discovered that computer equipment had been purchased, but none actually delivered to beneficiaries. The charity’s financial controls were found to be inadequate, much of the spending was in cash and undocumented, some of it was shown to have been spent on fast food. The trustees did not submit an annual return, accounts or an annual report to the Commission for the financial year ending April 2017, breaching their legal obligations as a result.

Amy Spiller, head of the investigations team, at the Charity Commission said: “When the public generously give to a cause they care about, they expect their money to be carefully managed to ensure it reaches the people who need it most. Instead, some of the trustees of Grove Mountain were reckless with these funds, acting against Commission guidance by spending cash on undocumented purchases and using money donated through collection boxes as their own. This was a gross misuse of charity.”

The Commission installed an interim manager to Grove Mountain in October 2018, who wound-up the charity and distributed the remaining funds to a charity operating to support children’s education in Jamaica. The charity was removed from the register on August 21 2019.

Spiller said: “Our intervention has allowed the remaining charitable funds to go towards supporting children in Jamaica. For their part in misusing charitable funds and acting with insufficient care, it’s right that the trustees responsible have been removed.”

Trustees, referred to only as A, B and C, were found responsible for misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity. Trustees A and B’s responsibility in the misuse of the charity was greater, so they were permanently removed from being trustees.

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