Serious Questions Raised in RSL Inquiry

By Andrew Heaton

(image via Katharamaga)

Serious questions will need to be answered during the public inquiry into the NSW branch of the RSL, the inquiry into the organisation has been told.

In his opening address to the Public Inquiry into the NSW branch of the Returned Services League and two of its charitable arms, Anthony Cheshire SC argued that there were extensive irregularities in the organisation’s accounting systems and that the organisation’s failed to act on concerns about large claims for work expenses from its former state president Don Rowe.

“The donating public needs to have confidence that any organisation … manages its finances properly and applies donations … to their charitable purposes,” Mr Cheshire said, as quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There are real questions as to whether this was the case”.

The controversy began after Fairfax Media exposed financial irregularities in the organisation last year.

Irregularities have included the alleged withdrawal of more than $200,000 in cash on corporate credit cards and payments of ‘consulting fees’ to directors of its aged care and residential care charity RSL Life Care.

The inquiry is also looking at whether or not the RSL has failed to meet its accountability requirements under the Charitable Fundraising Act.

This includes allegations that the mandatory reports were not lodged with the Minister for Industry and Better Regulation, that the organisation had not accounted for its profit and losses in regard to charitable appeals, and that fundraising proceeds were not kept in separate accounts as required by law.

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