British Charity commission has launched an investigation into a number of irregularities of Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha in Shepherd’s Bush.
This Gurdwara is now under the most severe type of investigation by the UK Charity Authorities, the Charity Commission.
The Gurdwara owns two houses next to the main Gurdwara building which were used for Punjabi Classes and as a Sarai for visiting Sikhs, all Panthic uses.
The Punjabi classes have been shut down and one committee member used his own company for refurbishing the houses to put onto commercial rent.
The properties are now rented to people who smoke. These properties were acquired with Sangats money and should not be used for business activities but should benefit the sangat.
The Charity Commission have opened this investigation because they do not want the Gurdwara run as a business and rightly need to see charitable purpose. It is sad that Punjabi classes are shut down to make way for money making.
In 2006 the Gurdwara faced a similar inquiry when the then committee tried to sell the Gurdwara properties and had plans drawn up to develop the historic Gurdwara in to a complex of 24 luxury flats. Although nearly 10 years have passed, this Gurdwara is still plagued by those wanting to turn it into a commercial property enterprise.
The Third Sector reported:
The regulator is investigating Central Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha in Shepherd’s Bush because of concerns about financial management, private benefit to a trustee and conflicts of interest.
The charity, which says on its website that it is the oldest established place of Sikh worship in Europe, was established in 1908 and had an income of £171,780 in the year to the end of October 2014.
Press release by the Charity Commission:
The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a new statutory inquiry into The Central Gurdwara (British Isles) London Khalsa Jatha (registered charity number 258324).
The charity has objects which include advancement of the Sikh religion, the maintenance of a Gurdwara, the advancement of education and social welfare primarily intended for members of the Sikh community in the UK but also making facilities available to members of the public at large.
In December 2012 the commission opened an operational compliance case into the charity to deal with complaints about the lack of adherence to the charity’s financial controls, financial irregularities and governance failures. Engagement with the charity revealed that an on-going internal dispute between the trustees had resulted in them not sharing financial and management information to enable them to properly administer the charity.
An action plan was issued to the charity in February 2014 and the commission monitored the trustees’ compliance with it. However the trustees failed to fully comply with the action plan. Concerns were also raised relating to the management of properties owned and rented by the charity, including allegations that there had been a private benefit to a trustee whose company was responsible for renovating the charity’s properties. It was not clear to the commission how the owning and renting of property was in furtherance of the charity’s purposes.
The commission was concerned at the trustees’ apparent unwillingness to take the necessary action to protect the charity and remedy the regulatory concerns to the commission’s satisfaction and so the commission opened an inquiry on 20 July 2015 to examine:
- why the trustees failed to fully comply with the action plan issued by the commission in February 2014
- whether there has been any private benefit to trustees with regard to the operation of the charity’s properties and whether any conflicts of interest have been properly managed
- whether the trustees have properly administered the charity in accordance with its governing document
- the financial management of the charity
- whether or not the trustees have complied with their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law, in particular in relation to whether the trustees have made decisions in the best interests of the charity
- whether there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees
The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so that the regulator can ascertain whether or not there has been misconduct or mismanagement; establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; decide what action needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its investigative, protective and remedial powers to do so.
It is the commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries are available on GOV.UK.
The charity’s details can be viewed on the commission’s online charity search tool.