Jole Rider Friends trustees banned for misconduct

Jole Rider's warehouse in Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Image caption The charity claimed to provide refurbished bicycles for African schoolchildren

Trustees of a children’s charity paid themselves almost a quarter of the charity’s funds, a watchdog has found.

Two founding trustees of Jole Rider Friends were disqualified for taking unauthorised payment of £322,500.

The Charity Commission found they were responsible for serious misconduct in handling the Gloucestershire-based charity’s finances and governance.

The charity, which provided refurbished bicycles for African school children, was wound up in September.

The inquiry found the charity, which operated a bicycle shop from its premises in Tetbury and was set up in 2005, repeatedly failed to submit financial accounts on time and carried out poor stock control.

The Commission said the trustees failed to cooperate with the Commission and failed to engage with an action plan served in 2016, which included proposals to repay the money.

The Commission considered the matter to be so serious it escalated the case to a statutory inquiry, which began in September 2017.

Between April 2007 and the start of that inquiry the trustees, David Swettenham and Helen King, received £322,500, which represented 23% of all income received during the life of the charity.

The trustees continued to make unauthorised payments to themselves after the commission told them to stop.

They then refused to pay back the amounts they had received on the basis of it not being in the interests of the charity to do so.

The inquiry also found the charity was insolvent, and the trustees were unwilling or unable to supply a list of the charity’s creditors, despite frequent requests to do so.

Mr Swettenham and Ms King have been disqualified from acting as charity trustees for twelve years until August 2031.

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