Trustees of the now-defunct Fife Animal Park near Collessie have been found to be guilty of misconduct by Scotland’s charity watchdog.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator issued a damning report this week following an inquiry into activities at the park, which closed down in March.
The body was called in following a complaint that the owners tried to sell the park’s charitable assets - including the animals - along with the commercial side of the business.
Fife Animal Park was awarded charitable status in October 2011 and owned around 76 different species of animal, all of which have been re-homed.
But investigators found that the board of trustees was ‘not fit for purpose’.
They said that there was no evidence that they were fulfilling their trustee duties; they lacked the skills to run the charity properly and had very little knowledge of the charity’s finances.
Financial record-keeping was found to be ‘very poor’; there was no control over the charity’s manager and they (the trustees) had not seen any bank statements.
“In addition to our concerns regarding the attempted sale of charity assets we found evidence of the charity trustees not fulfilling their duties which ... we consider to be misconduct in the administration of the charity,” concluded the report.
“There was no clear separation between the charity and the other private business that operated from Fife Animal Park.
“In general we found a lack of understanding of the need to run the charity independently.”
However, while OSCR found ‘clear evidence of misconduct’, it chose not to exercise its power to ban the trustees from becoming charity trustees in future.
It said it had taken into account that the animals had been re-homed; the fact that the charity had been liquidated and that the individuals concerned were not trustees of any other charity.
Fife Animal Trust was set up in May 2011 by directors of the commercial side of the business, Fife Animal Park.
A liquidator was appointed in March 2012 and the company was dissolved in June last year, with its animals and other assets being transferred to the charity.