A military charity is disbanded after an investigation finds the majority of revenue raised was being kept by a private company

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A military charity has been wound up after an investigation found most of its collected revenue was being kept by a company linked to a trustee.

Support the Heroes “misled the public”, and much of the money it raised “went to private enterprise instead of military veterans and serving personnel in need”, said said the Charity Commission.

The charity was disbanded in January, three and a half years after the commission appointed an interim director to oversee the organization’s closure process.

The investigation found that a company linked to one of the charity’s directors received two-thirds of the total funds raised from the public. Although Support the Heroes raised £1.3million between 2015 and 2016, only £223,000 was spent on charity, the commission found.

The charity was featured on the BBC’s The Great Military Scandal in October 2016, in which fundraisers appeared to claim they were working for free. The regulator opened a legal investigation a month later.

The organization was removed from the Charities Register earlier this year and its remaining funds of £15,000 were donated to Help for Heroes. Its directors have voluntarily agreed not to serve on the board of any charity for the next five years.

The regulator said that in October 2014, Support the Heroes entered into a five-year fundraising agreement with company Targeted Management Ltd.

His investigation revealed that, although the charity was to have at least three trustees, its board of directors consisted of only two people, who were sisters.

The chairman of the directors was both the sole director of Support the Heroes (Fundraising) Ltd, a charitable subsidiary through which TML operated, and the long-time partner of the father of the person running TML.

The commission said the board could provide no evidence that it undertook due diligence on its arrangements with TML or considered the conflicts of interest involved.

This constituted “mismanagement and/or misconduct” on the part of the board, the regulator said.

It also found that the chairman of the trustees unilaterally changed the agreement with TML in a way “that resulted in additional costs to the charity.”

The deal with TML allowed the company to keep 67% of the gross amount donated by members of the public, the investigation found. Once VAT deductions are added, only 17% of the gross revenue collected was spent on charitable purposes between 2015 and 2017.

Details of the arrangement were omitted from the charity’s annual accounts. The commission concluded that the agreement represented “numerous instances of misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees.”

The commission said: ‘The investigation revealed that the trustees had failed to take adequate steps to address the risks and reputational issues arising from the persistently low proportion of funds applied directly for charitable purposes.’

He also criticized the lack of transparency around the arrangement with TML, which was not mentioned on the charity’s website.

Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations at the Charity Commission, said: ‘Donors have a reasonable expectation that the money they give will reach the cause they care about.

“Due to a complete lack of transparency on how the fund was raised, the charity misled the public and much of the money went to a private company instead of military veterans. and service personnel in need.

“Cases like these have the potential to seriously undermine trust in charities generally. It is therefore right that we have taken strong action to ensure that the charity is deregistered and that its directors cannot run other charities for a period of five years.

The Support the Heroes website has been taken down and phone calls are directed to HW Fisher & Company, the accountants who acted as interim managers during the commission’s investigation. Emails to association staff bounced back.

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