I attended Thursday’s Shetland Charitable Trust meeting wearing a badge displaying the capacity in which I was observing, a ‘SHETLAND CHARITABLE TRUST BENEFICIARY’, on the reverse I had ‘VIKING ENERGY TRUST BENEFICIARY?’ (please note the ‘?’), which I switched to once the vote on governance had gone through. Because that is what the SCT has now become – the Viking Energy Trust.
Since the SCT took over VE in 2007 it has been utterly driven by the company. Bill Manson as both chair of the trust and Viking Energy Ltd made no move whatsoever to bend to OSCR’s ruling until it became apparent that conflicts of interest with 22 councillor trustees was making life extremely difficult in achieving quorate meetings and drawing down finances for Viking Energy Ltd.
It took a little while for the penny to drop but eventually it did. What could be better than to have a board consisting of seven councillors and eight selected trustees, a proposal built for cronyism and VE expediency. With a quorum of only six required even better, a split vote could be carried with the chairman’s casting vote and major financial decisions could be made by just three selected trustees; absolutely perfect.
The final piece in the jigsaw came in the next item on the agenda, namely the move to nominee directors taken from outside the trust for their subsidiary companies, SLAP, SHEAP, and of course Viking Energy Ltd.
In the past these directorships have always been held by trustees, but the reasoning now is these companies have perhaps not performed as well as they could and more suitable external directors should be sought.
In my opinion this has more to do with keeping Bill Manson on as chair of Viking Energy Ltd, which of course he still is, with Caroline Miller still also being a director despite no longer being trustees. Whichever way you dress this up public accountability diminishes even further.
So this has indeed been a sad day for democracy in Shetland, our charitable fund will now be controlled by an unelected and unaccountable majority, it will be interesting to see who comes forward for the role.
Viking Energy Trust Beneficiary?