RSL NSW Fraud Charge Reignites Fix Fundraising Campaign

Don Rowe was charged on 23 January with two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, following a two-year investigation by NSW police which uncovered over $238,000 in stolen donations.

An inquiry in 2016 found Rowe had withdrawn $200,000 in cash and spent $475,000 on the corporate credit card to pay for family phone bills, mortgage, flights and meals during his 11-year reign as president, which ended in 2014.

A two-year-long investigation by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) also found the organisation was riddled with widespread misconduct and significant governance failures, which the organisation said have now been cleaned up.

But Sue Woodward, head of Not-for-profit Law – one of the organisations leading the campaign to fix state fundraising laws – said this case was a perfect example of the irrelevance of fundraising laws for catching out charities doing the wrong thing.

“If you look at either end of this case, the criminal areas have been referred to the police and the issues of governance are being dealt with by the ACNC,” Woodward told Pro Bono News.

“It’s not been the state fundraising laws that have come to the rescue and dealt with these problems.”

To view the full ProBono article, click here.

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