13:04 10 December 2013
In a review of its finances, it has become apparent that Comic Relief has raised £1bn funds, which it pays to other charities, sometimes over several years. Because of this, it holds tens of millions of pounds at any point in time – the details of which are shrouded in secrecy.
Now, BBC Panorama has learned that Comic Relief has invested some of its fund on shares in arms, alcohol, and tobacco – something that seems to contradict several of its core aims.
In 2009, it was found that the charity invested £630,000 in shares in weapons firm BAE Systems. This is despite its mission statement claiming its commitment to helping “people affected by conflict.”
Also, it invested £300,000 in shares in the alcohol industry despite its mission statement saying, “working to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise related harm.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Comic Relief co-founder and former chair of trustees Peter Bennett-Jones claimed that there are legal guidelines in place that demand that the charity yield the best possible return on investment.
Bennett-Jones said that The Charity Commission advised that trustees "should only adopt an ethical investment approach with specific justification and not on the grounds of individual moral views".
Sam Younger, Charity Commission chief executive, said: "If a charity says 'we need to invest for the maximum financial return' that is right.
"If they go on to say 'we therefore can't have an ethical investment policy', that's wrong."
Meanwhile, Comic Relief said: "We put the money into large managed funds, as many other leading charities and pension funds do.”
"On balance, we believe this is the approach that will deliver the greatest benefits to the most vulnerable people."
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