Charity will appoint new trustee after probe

A Jewish charity has agreed to appoint a “fully independent trustee” to its board following an investigation by the Charity Commission.

Mayfair Charities Ltd, which provides grants to Jewish educational and poverty-relief organisations, this week confirmed that it would comply with the recommendations outlined in the regulator’s report.

The commission had voiced concern over a potential conflict of interest. Trustees of the charity — which supports the Beth Jacob Grammar School for Girls in Hendon — are the strictly Orthodox millionaire brothers, Benzion Shalom Eliezer and Solomon Israel Freshwater, and David Davis.

The brothers also hold senior positions at the Freshwater Group, a multi-million-pound property company, while Mr Davis is a non-executive director.

According to the commission: “The inquiry investigated how the complex network of property-related financial arrangements between the charity, its trading subsidiaries and companies connected to the trustees, worked for the benefit of the charity.

"The charity owns properties which are rented out (residentially and commercially) at market rate and uses the income to make grants to charitable causes. The regulator’s investigation concluded that the arrangements did ultimately benefit the charity.”

Michelle Russell, the commission’s head of investigations and enforcement, said: “This case is a timely reminder to all charities to be alert to and deal with conflict-of-interest situations.

“Trustees need to be able to show that they have made decisions independently of any private or competing interest.”

A Mayfair spokesperson said: “We will appoint a fully independent trustee to the board in January 2014. This came as a result of the Commission’s inquiry, which we will comply with.”

The charity’s “income in the year ended March 2012 came to just under £12.5 million and its expenditure was over £4 million,” the commission said.

    Last updated: 10:13am, December 19 2013