Jewish charity in Manchester gets official warning from watchdog

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Jewish charity in Manchester gets official warning from watchdog

Statutory inquiry into Combined Funds Limited found it had paid £250K for private medical care for someone linked to a trustee, and loaned a business run by another £1 million

A coin is dropped into a charity collection container
A coin is dropped into a charity collection container

The Charity Commission has published findings of misconduct and mismanagement at a Jewish charity in Manchester after it paid £250,000 for private medical care for someone linked to a trustee and loaned a business run by another trustee £1 million.

A statutory inquiry into Combined Funds Limited, which exists to provide poverty relief in the strictly-Orthodox Jewish community, began almost three years ago and ended this week with the formal findings.

The regulator reported “serious concerns surrounding unmanaged conflicts of interest and unauthorised trustee personal benefit, as well as loans from the charity to its trading subsidiaries”. Combined Funds Limited had funds of £8.2 million in 2015. In 2016 it did not file a profit and loss account. Such were the concerns that the Commission froze its bank accounts during its inquiry. When the inquiry opened the charity had three trustees: Mordechai Stolzberg, Ephraim Stolzberg and Ester Hirsch.

In February 2019, almost a year after the inquiry began, Mordechai Stolzberg, 65, resigned from the charity, having been a founding trustee since 1981. Ephraim Stolzberg, 80, a founding trustee and the charity’s first governor, remains on the board.

Since its inquiry began, two independent trustees have been appointed and the trustees have formalised written policies. In addition, all loans have been repaid.

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