Lack of independent trustees a concern
The billionaire who owns Grangemouth oil refinery has seen a probe into his charity concluded without any further action.
Investigators at the Charity Commission launched a probe into The Jim Ratcliffe Foundation, run by the Ineos owner, to assess whether grant funding provided by the charity towards construction of a ski clubhouse in France met its charitable purposes.
Club Des Sports Courchevel’s (CDS) is a French charity that offers children and young people in Courchevel the opportunity to enjoy alpine sport activities, including skiing, at a subsidised cost.
The site is also in part occupied by an exclusive ski clubhouse that charges high membership fees.
Between September 2019 and June 2020, the charity provided grants totalling €12,500,000 to the CDS toward the construction of the clubhouse building which opened in December 2021.
While the commission said the charity had met the criteria for charitable activities, it raised concerns that all the charity’s trustees “are employed by companies that Sir Jim Ratcliffe is connected to”, and warned that this “may cause a perception of bias or lack of independence which is a risk to the charity’s reputation”.
The regulator said it had raised concerns about the lack of independent trustees at the charity, “highlighting that while no conflict of loyalty has been identified, the public may believe one to exist.
“This has been acknowledged by the trustees who have agreed to take steps to appoint at least one trustee who is not employed by a company connected to Sir Jim Ratcliffe.”
Tracy Howarth, assistant director of casework at the Charity Commission, said: “We welcome the decision taken by trustees to agree to appointing another member to their board and thank them for their cooperation.
“We have found no evidence to uphold allegations made against the charity and as such, there is no further role for us at this time.”