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MPs approve toughening rules governing charities

Tougher rules governing charities have been passed by MPs in a bid to avoid them being used for money laundering or terrorist activity.

Junior Home Affairs Minister Sylvan Richards said the new rules — which cover areas like accounts and allows charities to be shut down — would minimise the risk of criminal activity and bring the Island into line with international standards.

But Shadow Attorney General Kim Wilson said that, in light of the conviction of a charity youth leader for sex offences against a boy aged under 13, the legislation should be amended to address that issue.

She said the House had “a perfect opportunity” to pass legislation to address these issues.

Mr Richards said the Charity Commissioner or Registrar had powers to determine whether a charity was “fit and proper.”

The new law replaces legislation from 1978 and tightens up what kind of bodies can be eligible for registration as charities, including a requirement to comply with guidelines on public benefit.

The Registrar will also be able to launch investigations into charities but must be able to show reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing first.

Charities will also have to provide more information on their finances to the Registrar on an annual basis, while charities will also need to keep their annual accounts for at least seven years after they are filed.

If evidence of misconduct or mismanagement is found, the Registrar may take “remedial or protective action” or cancel the charity's registration altogether.

Charities, however, can appeal against sanctions to the Minister and further to the Supreme Court.

Charities will also have to pay registration fees but on a sliding scale depending on how much money they administer, while the public will also be able to inspect charity records, also for a fee.

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Published March 18, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 17, 2014 at 11:54 pm)

MPs approve toughening rules governing charities

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