Dear members and guests,
For those of you who were unable to attend the special meeting held last Thursday to discuss the action that has been taken regarding Chris Pane’s confession to having stolen TAFN funds, please find a short summary below. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com Also, the minutes of the special meeting, which will contain much more detail, will be made available as soon as they have been produced.
Chris contacted first Shirley then myself on Monday March 2nd to confess his theft of approximately £7500 of charity funds. According to him, this began three years ago and ceased six months ago.
After informing the outgoing and current Executive Committees at the hand-over meeting on Thursday March 5th, it was decided that the first priority was to inform the Charities Commission in order to obtain advice. Having been unable to raise them by phone, Shirley began an email dialogue with them, which is still in its early stages. We have acquired a deal of useful documentation pertaining to improvements in our security and the procedure the Charities Commission will follow when a serious incident has been reported to them as a result of this dialogue. Thanks are due to Tony Bowers for converting this information into a readily accessible form and for researching additional material that will be essential to the improvements in TAFN’s administration that we intend to effect immediately in order to prevent a recurrence of this crisis. Early indications from this documentation seem to suggest that we will not be subject to censure from the Charities commission, though this is by no means guaranteed.
Following the initial reply from the Charities Commission, I reported the matter to Derbyshire police, who interviewed Shirley on my behalf the following Tuesday, which lasted several hours.
The other purpose for which Shirley went to Chesterfield that day was to collect TAFN property from Chris, including bank statements, bank cards, TAFN mugs, pen drives and a CD copier. Upon a Cursory check, she discovered that all our bank statements were not yet accounted for so the police offered to assist her with the collection of the rest.
She went back to Chris’s house, where she took possession of some more TAFN material that Teresa said she had subsequently found and the police intended to arrest him. This was not possible however, since Chris was out for the day and was not due to return until six. There is still some property that remains unaccounted for. The following day, Chris went to the police station and handed himself in for arrest. He has been charged with theft and is on police bale.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to Shirley for her tremendous efforts on the charity’s behalf. Going to Chesterfield to collect TAFN property and for such a lengthy interview must have been deeply stressful and unpleasant and Shirley has done the charity a great service by so readily agreeing to perform these difficult tasks.
Meanwhile, the Executive Committee was attempting, either to regain control of TAFN’s accounts or to have them frozen until they could be made safe. It is for this reason that we sent out the important instruction that nobody should give money to TAFN for any reason.
As many of you will know, we have accounts with Lloyds, Scottish Widows and a PayPal account. Ascertaining the signatories on these accounts has proven much more difficult than we might wish. After much investigation, it turns out that the signatories on the Lloyds account are currently Ann Saunders and Leon Gilbert. Shirley and Ann visited Lloyds Bank yesterday on our behalf and I am pleased to be able to tell members that the accounts held at Lloyds are now frozen. The new mandates are not yet available but, at least, the balances on those accounts are now safe. I would like to make particular mention of Ann, since she is still suffering from health problems and her readiness to assist despite this is very much appreciated.
Heartfelt thanks are due to John Wells, who has been responsible for gaining most of the information from Lloyds and who is responsible for ensuring that we were able to meet a payment necessary for TAFN’s administration, specifically, the transfer of the 0845 number from Chris’s control to Tony Bowers, who has kindly offered to man that line for the time-being. The signatories for our Scottish Widows account were Paul Weston and Chris Pane. Sincere thanks are due to Paul, who was of great assistance by filling out the form necessary to have himself removed from the accounts and the Chair added as a signatory. It is our intention that all accounts will be administered by John as treasurer, Shirley as Vice Treasurer as nominated by the Executive Committee and myself as Chair for additional oversight.
Regarding our PayPal account, we would like to thank Richard Wilkin very much for promptly changing our account password and thereby securing it. We are pleased to tell you that, as a result of this, members may now donate money to TAFN via the PayPal account again. It is vital that members do not donate to TAFN by any other means however, i.e. bank transfer, cheque etc.
Full details of our knowledge of TAFN’s finances will be available in the minutes of the special meeting or upon request. We can say, therefore, that not everything has come to light yet, but that members should not worry too much as TAFN’s running costs are all paid up for the next year. We can use that time to rebuild and consolidate our position.
Before moving on, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Web Master, Mark Tyler, for his great amount of work in altering the system passwords, amongst other things, to make members’ information safe and to make sure that we are complying with our data protection obligations.
Regarding our next steps, since the matter of Chris himself is largely in the hands of the police and all we will be required to do is provide evidence as requested, we must turn our attention to implementing additional security to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. There can be little doubt that too much trust was placed in Chris and that he was allowed too much free reign and too great a degree of responsibility. We deeply regret this and would like to apologise for the profound shock, distress, not to mention inconvenience this situation has caused the membership. It is the view of the entire Executive Committee however, as well as the previous administration, that the blame does not rest with one administration or one person or group of people for this state of affairs. The erosion of oversight necessary for Chris to feel able to act in the manner he has must have happened over several years and been the result of unhappy chance as much as deficiencies in the practises the charity has been adopting up to now.
We therefore do not intend to waste time in recriminations, but to move forward with measures intended to safeguard TAFN’s future. The particulars of these measures have, in large part, still to be decided, since they must be guided by suggestions from the Charities Commission, however they will certainly include an insistence that TAFN’s finances are regularly checked by an independent person with accounting skills from outside the charity, as well as the increased oversight mentioned earlier. Until now, only two people have had access to TAFN’s finances and sometimes, since it has been instigated by Chris, the control of that second person has only been nominal. Now, we intend that three people should take active part in TAFN’s financial administration at all times.
Although this is an unparalleled disaster for TAFN, I am absolutely certain that the organisation will survive it and not only survive it, but come through it stronger than before. I would like to thank everyone who has been so eager to help in whatever way with our response to this crisis and am certain that, if we can maintain this level of team spirit, we will be back firing on all cylinders very soon.