Italian Charity Claims ‘False and Mischievous’
Tuesday, 28th May 2013 at 9:05 am
Victorian Italian welfare body, CO.AS.IT and the Italian Services Institute at the centre of allegations of mishandling community funds have spoken out saying the claims and innuendos made against the two organisations are utterly false and mischievous.
CO.AS.IT and the Italian Services Institute say they categorically reject all allegations of secrecy and assertions that money has gone missing.
In April 2013, Pro Bono Australia reported that Fairfax Media had published allegations that the Victorian-based charity CO.AS.IT had channelled millions of dollars into a parallel organisation without explanation to the charity’s membership or the wider Italian community.
Fairfax Media reported that the Victoria Police had confirmed it is investigating the organisation. The newspaper alleged that CO.AS.IT transferred almost $17million to another entity, the Italian Services Institute (ISI), over two decades.
The two organisation say they are co-operating fully with the national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, and have advised Victoria Police that in the event of an investigation, they will also fully co-operate.
The organisations have posted a detailed statement on the CO.AS.IT website which they say explains the current operations of the organisations and the long term transparent strategy to build up funds for the future welfare needs of the Italian community in Victoria.
The statement is signed by of CO.AS.IT President Rhonda Barro, and CEO Giancarlo
“CO.AS.IT and the Italian Services Institute are deeply disappointed that a small
number of disgruntled individuals have spread untrue and malicious allegations
about the two organisations,” the statement said.
“These individuals have chosen to turn their backs on any democratic process to
become part of the leadership of CO.AS.IT.
“Instead, they have resorted to a regrettable smear campaign to undermine the good
work of CO.AS.IT and the Institute,” it said.
“Unfortunately, their tactics have ended up tarnishing the reputation of all Italians as
old negative stereotypes have been dredged up in the press and wider community. This is inexcusable and the individuals should be held to account for their actions.”
CO.AS.IT was founded in 1968 and is an umbrella organisation for Italian community groups which receives funding from the Italian, Federal and Victorian Governments for aged care, language and cultural programs.
The joint statement also details the relationship between CO.AS.IT and the Italian Services Institute.
The statement says:
- All financial accounts of each organisation have always been audited and published as required by Law;
- There is no money whatsoever in either body that is unaccounted for – in other words, there is no money missing;
- Each organisation has fully abided by the law – neither organisation has acted illegally in any way, and;
- CO.AS.IT’s CEO has acted appropriately and has never benefited from his position other than as a salaried officer. His salary package is entirely appropriate having regard to his responsibilities in respect of CO.AS.IT.
The statement says CO.AS.IT is the largest welfare organisation of its kind in Australia, providing services to well over 100,000 people.