Cash raised has never been spent
A judicial factor has been appointed by OSCR to manage a north east charity following serious concerns about its governance.
The move comes after an investigation by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator following concerns raised by John Mowatt, vice-chairman of the Wick Academy Development Fund (WADF).
He was concerned about its reluctance to distribute the money to local charities in accordance with the constitution and described WADF as "a closed shop."
The fund was set up to help provide social, leisure and recreational facilities for the town and surrounding area and was registered as a charity in March 2002. It has around £140,000 in its bank account but concerns were raised on a number of occasions about the way the fund was managed.
OSCR, which first made inquiries about WADF in 2010, found it was not acting in "a manner consistent" with its stated aims. As a result a petition was lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to appoint a judicial factor to manage the fund.
It has now appointed a chartered accountant based in Glasgow to manage the fund's affairs.
In a damning report OSCR states: “Following our inquiries, we concluded that there is no realistic prospect of activities being undertaken by the charity trustees in furtherance of the charity’s objects. The charity is not providing public benefit and is therefore at risk of removal from the Scottish Charity Register.
“Should it be removed, charity trustees would remain under an obligation to apply the charity's assets in accordance with its purposes. We have no confidence that the charity trustees would comply with this requirement.”
Some of the trustees tried to get consent from the regulator to dissolve the charity and transfer the funds to other groups but that was not granted.
Colin Stewart, a former chairman of Wick Academy football club and one of a number of people who raised concerns about the fund, said: "I am delighted a judicial factor has been appointed. It is good the fund will now be controlled properly and we will see how it develops from here.
"It is a big step forward and, hopefully, the fund will now be used for the purposes stated in the constitution. I would hope the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible but that is up to the judicial factor."
TFN has contacted WADF for comment. Last year its chairman, Jacky Gunn, said of the regulator’s investigation: "We have done nothing wrong and are not worried about it one bit.”