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Calpe House reinstated on UK charities register

Calpe House Limited, the company set up to take over the running of one of Gibraltar’s leading charities, has been reinstated into the UK’s register of charities.

The Chronicle revealed last month that the company had been removed from the register on September 9 for repeatedly failing to submit accounts.

But the UK Charity Commission has confirmed that all outstanding accounts were filed on September 29 and Calpe House Limited is back on the register.

Calpe House has faced intense scrutiny relating to its £8.5m purchase of new buildings in Norfolk Square and a £4.8m refurbishment project, both financed using government loans and contributions raised by the community.

The buildings were purchased by the Calpe House Charitable Trust, a UK-registered charity that has run the affairs of Calpe House since it was established in the early 1990s.

But they are now owned by Calpe House Limited, whose latest accounts for the year ended March 31, 2017, show tangible fixed assets – namely the properties at 19-23 Norfolk Square and the existing building at 47 Prince’s Square – with a net book value of £14.9m.

“The trustees consider that the value of the properties if and when it is sold at an undefined future date would be greater than the carrying value in the financial statements, taking into account factors such as market appreciation and inflation rates,” the accounts state.

“Furthermore, the properties were maintained to the high standard for the benefit of the charitable beneficiaries in London and is [sic] unlikely to suffer from technological or economic obsolescence.”

“Although there may be considerable difference between the carrying value and market value of the land and buildings the trustees do not consider it to be a practicable exercise to have the property [sic] revalued each year.”

The 2016 and 2017 accounts for Calpe House Limited, which were prepared by London firm Cooper Young & Partners, show that the charity received £12.9m in government loans over the past two years, related to the purchase and refurbishment of the new buildings.

On its website, the UK Charity Commission noted that the charity’s accounts had been filed late.

Last month, when it confirmed Calpe House Limited had been removed from the register of charities, the UK charity regulator highlighted the importance of good account keeping.

“Public trust and confidence in charities is reliant on transparency and integrity, especially when it comes to financial accounts,” a spokeswoman said at the time.

“This is a reminder to charity trustees that submitting accounting information to the Commission is a legal requirement and a failure to do so can lead to serious repercussions, like being removed as a registered charity or, in serious cases, regulatory action.”

News that the outstanding accounts have now been filed comes ahead of a debate on Calpe House today in the Gibraltar Parliament.

Gibraltar Government minister Joe Bossano has tabled a motion calling on Parliament to declare its “full support and confidence” in the charity’s trustees following public concerns about the purchase of the new buildings in Norfolk Square and the running of the charity.

Both the UK Charity Commission and the Gibraltar Government have stated publicly that they are satisfied that the purchase was handled properly and was in the interests of the charity.
Those statements, however, have so far failed to dispel concerns about the charity’s administration.

Last month, Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon wrote to the trustees and enclosed a 16-page document asking detailed questions about the purchase and refurbishment of Norfolk Square and, more broadly, about the way the charity runs its affairs.

The charity has not yet replied to Ms Hassan Nahon’s questions.

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