North East Wales

Call for Capricorn Animal Rescue charity finances probe

Cats eating

Calls have been made for claims of financial mismanagement at an animal sanctuary in Flintshire to be investigated by the Charity Commission.

Capricorn Animal Rescue was the subject of a BBC Wales Week in Week Out programme which exposed animals being kept in poor conditions.

Former volunteers say they have evidence alcohol was bought with the charity's money.

Founder Sheila Stewart said the items had been bought fraudulently.

She told BBC Wales: "A fraudulent account was registered with Makro using the charity's name to purchase unsuitable items. This is from 2014 until 2015.

"The charity's bank's fraud department has this on file. It is being investigated. Makro are aware of this and are helping us find who has perpetrated this fraud."

Capricorn Animal Rescue is a registered charity that appears to house about 350 animals on two sites at Padeswood near Mold.

It is managed by Ms Stewart and has been the subject of protests and online petitions by former volunteers concerned about its animal welfare standards.

In 2015, the rescue centre raised £250,000 in donations and income from its charity shops.

Image caption Week In Week Out found evidence of overcrowding, dirty conditions and some animals having no access to water.

Former volunteer Vikki Savage said trustees had concerns over bank account entries and receipts from a wholesaler.

"We noticed that there was a lot of spend in Makro and we never ever buy animal food from there, so we wondered what that spend could actually be," she said.

"So we went to Makro, asked if we could have the receipts which relate to [the purchases] and we were absolutely astounded to find it was alcohol.

"There was lots of spirits and shot glasses and basically stuff for a party. It wasn't anything related to animal care whatsoever."

On Saturday protestors gathered out the charity's shop in Mold, raising concerns about animal welfare and alleged financial irregularities.

One protestor, Daniel Rose, said: "I've been a trustee and a volunteer at the charity for several years and the amount of issues we've found - it needs looking into urgently.

"We want the Charity Commission to open their eyes and see that an inquiry is needed to make certain all the evidence we've provided to them is looked at properly."

The Charity Commission said it had received a number of complaints about Capricorn and that it had provided regulatory advice and guidance to the charity's trustees in the form of an action plan.

"Our case remains open and we are continuing to monitor the charity and its compliance with the action plan," a spokesperson said.

"We have met with the charity's trustees and will be engaging further regarding the issues raised. As such we cannot comment further at this time."

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