THE police fraud squad has been called in to a trouble-hit Hartlepool charity.
Manor Residents’ Association, in Kilmarnock Road, Hartlepool, is the subject of an allegation of fraud and police officers from a specialist economic crime unit have now launched an investigation.
It follows the latest audit review of the organisation carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council and officials say a number of “issues” have been raised and referred to the police.
No further details about the allegations have been released at this stage but no arrests have yet been made.
Cleveland Police has confirmed the force’s Economic Crime Unit were been called in after a referral from the local authority.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “Concerns were raised some time ago and the matter was referred to the Charities’ Commission – which is a regulatory body for the Manor Residents’ Association.
“However, on Friday, evidence was produced which we are now investigating.”
A council spokesman said: “Following completion of the latest audit review carried out at Manor Residents’ Association, a number of issues have been referred to the police who are now in the process of carrying out their own investigations.”
It is another blow for the trouble-hit charity.
In June, an audit review by the council into Manor Residents’ Association concluded “no assurances” could be given to the procedures in place to manage council funds after concerns were raised about administrative procedures around payroll, payslips, end of year records and under and overpayment of tax letters.
At the time action plans were drawn up and it was agreed the council’s audit team would revisit the organisations in July and August to ensure recommendations had been implemented and embedded.
In August, the organisation submitted an application to Hartlepool County Court to suspend a bailiffs’ warrant while a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) was finalised.
But after nobody turned up to represent the charity in court, the judge took just 30 seconds to strike off the application.
It meant the association will have its assets repossessed to pay a number of creditors, including current and former employees who have won a string of employment tribunals against the charity since April.
At the last court appearance, former cleaner Lynda Gooding, 56, was still waiting for almost £9,000 the charity was ordered to pay to her by a tribunal judge more than four months ago.
Mrs Gooding was the first of four current and former employees of the charity to launch legal proceedings.
The charity lost all four employment tribunals totalling more than £20,000.
Mrs Gooding, who lives in Forfar Road, worked for the charity for less than national minimum wage and Manor Residents’ Association now owes Mrs Gooding a total of £8,856.
The charity was also ordered to pay Carl Williams £3,738, Sharon Henderson £6,000 and Sue Harriman £3,706 at employment tribunals since April.
Nobody from Manor Residents’ Association, which is managed by former Labour councillor Angie Wilcox, was available for comment when contacted by the Mail.