G.L.E.N investigation: charity funds used to support founder's Seanad bid, €50k credit card spend not properly accounted for - report
The gay rights’ group G.L.E.N allowed charitable funds to be used to support its founder’s political campaign and spent another €51,174 with credits cards which was not properly accounted for, a damning report from the charity watchdog revealed today.
An investigation by the Charities Regulator found funds were used to support the an unsuccessful Seanad campaign by co-founder Kieran Rose which he ran from the charity’s office.
It emerged last year he used G.L.E.N’s office space, printing and photocopying and has since repaid the cost.
The regulator John Farrelly also found inadequate and inappropriate controls were applied to the use of charity credit cards, including personal expenditure and cash withdrawals.
While personal expenditure on credit cards was repaid to GLEN, between January 2014 and May 2017, €51,174 which was spent using company credit cards was not adequately supported by itemised receipts or invoices.
The inspectors found an organisational culture within GLEN where charity trustees appeared to place relatively high levels of trust in staff members without adequate checks and balances being in place to provide necessary oversight of all financial transactions and financial reporting.
The trustees included Simon Nugent the former chief executive of the Private Hospitals Association and Seamus Dooley the current general secretary of the National Union of Journalists.
The regulator said the weaknesses in the charity’s financial reporting processes meant the board were unable to detect and mitigate the significant risks identified in this report in order to consistently safeguard the charity’s assets and funds and ensure that they were used to further the charitable purpose of the charity.
“There are key lessons for all Irish registered charities in ensuring there are financial controls in place and full disclosure by management to charity trustees so they can manage their organisation,” Charities Regulator Chief Executive John Farrelly said.
The inspectors also highlighted the importance of the need for continuous communication by the external auditor with the charity trustees where significant internal control issues were identified.
“GLEN is currently in the process of being wound down,” Mr Farrelly said.
“The Charities Regulator has sought an update from the charity trustees on the status of other debtor amounts due to the charity prior to the wind down being completed.”
The report highlights the impact which a lack of robust governance and oversight can have on an otherwise vibrant charity.”