In a remarkable aside in today’s Sunday Telegraph Amanda Bowman, chief executive of Atlantic Bridge Inc., is quoted as describing her organisation’s UK charity as a ‘shell game’. So how did this confidence trick work and who was being conned? My guess is that she’s referring to the arrangement described in the UK charity’s accounts dated 3 February 2007, that is: ‘When events occur in America, expenses are paid by the Atlantic Bridge Inc (US), run by Scott Syfert. If a British citizen wishes to attend an event in the US, and prefers to give a donation in GBP, the UK charity will accept the donations on behalf of Atlantic Bridge Inc.’ This sounds very much like a shell game to me, with the taxpayer playing the role of the mark who subsidised the operation.
Perhaps if the Charity Commission had chosen to investigate this aspect of my 2009 complaint, they would have identified the shell game for sure. The commission insists the charity’s trustees were co-operative, but handicapped by their ignorance of the law (poor fools). I would imagine that successful confidence tricksters come across as something they are not, almost by definition. And it certainly suited these trustees to play dumb.
But this piece is concerned mainly with role of Tory minister Lord Astor of Hever, an Atlantic Bridge trustee and so personally responsible for ensuring its operations stayed within the law. It’s about time this hereditary peer faced closer scrutiny.
Posts on the Atlantic Bridge are collected here.