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23rd February 2021

Charity Commission inquiry into The Bersam Trust

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The Charity Commission has issued three trustees with an official warning for placing a charity at risk by borrowing £1.9m via inadequately documented loans. It has concluded its inquiry into the Bersam Trust, whose objects include “providing Jewish children with a strictly orthodox Jewish religious education”.

The charity, which is based in Salford, leases a building to an independent Orthodox Jewish faith school and also meets some of the support costs of the school such as funding security at the school building.

The Commission opened an inquiry into the charity in January 2019, due to ongoing concerns about its financial arrangements and governance.  During financial years ending 31 March 2014 to 31 March 2018, in addition to loans from a bank, the charity received 56 loans totalling £2.4m. The inquiry found that 49 of those loans were not documented within a loan agreement. Those 49 loans accounted for £1.9m of borrowing by the trustees on behalf of the charity and they were taken from various sources such as individuals and other charities.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Commission, said: “Good governance is not a bureaucratic detail, it’s essential in ensuring a charity delivers on its charitable purpose and isn’t exposed to unnecessary risk”.

For more information about the items raised in this article please contact a member of our Charities, Education & Social Enterprise team.