The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into an Orthodox Jewish charity in Manchester amid “significant concerns” about a £380,000 black hole in its accounts.
Chessed L’Yisroel, which aims to relieve poverty, had already had property repossessed for failing to make repayments on an earlier loan, and has now “failed to adequately explain” why it has not repaid a subsequent loan.
The Commission said the charity, which first raised eyebrows for not reporting its finances for four years, has since submitted “a set of conflicting accounts” which “prompts concerns about the charity’s financial affairs”.
In 2011, Chessed L’Yisroel failed to make repayments to Yorkshire Bank, resulting in the repossession of the charity’s properties and a loss of more than £250,000.
That same year, during which it listed “wedding expenditure” amongst its outgoings, the charity took out another loan, this time for more £130,000, which has not been repaid.
“Reports and accounts submitted to the commission… have raised significant regulatory concerns,” the regulator said in a statement.
“The charity has failed to adequately explain why it did not make its repayment obligations or what it did with the money it borrowed.”
The statutory inquiry will look into the “reliability and accuracy” of the charity’s financial reporting, it said, and whether the charity is still active.
Investigators will also examine the “adequacy of the charity’s financial management controls and whether this has resulted in a substantial level of charity funds being lost, misappropriated or misapplied”.
Chessed L’Yisroel, which could not be reached for comment, is the second Orthodox Jewish charity from Manchester to be investigated in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, the Commission said it was looking into the Jewish Seminary for Girls, which “promotes the Jewish faith amongst Jewish girls and women between the ages of 15 and 25,” citing “serious concerns” about the seminary’s accounts.
In a damning statement, the regulator concluded that there were “serious concerns as to whether the charity’s accounts present an accurate picture of the charity’s financial activities and whether assets currently, or previously, belonging to the charity have been adequately accounted for”.