Today, 13th August 2015, a former employee of Big Hearts appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the charge of embezzlement.
An issue was identified in August 2013 which led to an immediate internal investigation within Big Hearts. As a result of that investigation an employee of Big Hearts was suspended with immediate effect and subsequently dismissed. Police Scotland and the Scottish Charity Regulator, OSCR, were also informed.
This incident pre-dated the current ownership of Hearts football club which is an entirely separate legal entity from Big Hearts. However, given the close relationship between the club and the charity, the incident was investigated by BIDCO during the due diligence exercise carried out in advance of the change of ownership. Mrs Budge said: “One of the options considered was to close the charity. However, the work being carried out plays a vital role in the community and it was important that it continued. It would be wrong that the charity and the community should suffer because of the criminal actions of one individual.”
Mrs Budge agreed to join the Board of Trustees of the charity and since then, along with those trustees, has been influential in reshaping the work, the focus and the restructuring of the Board of the charity.
The charity is satisfied that the systems now in place will mitigate exposure to any such risk in future.
The incident was fully disclosed in the charity accounts for 2012/13 and 2013/14. The Note to the Financial Statements in the Annual Accounts for 2013/14 stated:
“OSCR was kept fully and regularly informed after the discovery of a misappropriation and after reviewing the matter wrote to the Trustees confirming that they were satisfied with the actions taken by the Trustees and chief executive and that they had concluded their inquiries into the case.”