Charities Wrongfully Denied Bank Loans
3 February 2016 at 1:01 pm
Australia’s charity regulator and the government’s financial watchdog have partnered to urge banks to change the way they interact with charities after hundreds of them were denied loans and other financial assistance.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have begun writing to dozens of financial sector representatives calling on them to take note of changes in the charity sector.
The ACNC said since December 2012 it had received more than 1,000 complaints regarding the way banks and other financial service providers have tried to verify the information charities provide.
ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM said that the issues were caused by changes to the reporting requirements for charitable companies in December 2012.
“Prior to the establishment of the ACNC, charitable companies limited by guarantee were required to lodge reports with ASIC or notify them of common changes,” Pascoe said.
“However, this has not been the case for over three years now.
“Since the establishment of the ACNC in December 2012, charitable companies, which account for around 10 per cent of all registered charities, have been required to report to the ACNC instead.
“Therefore, anyone wishing to check the details of charitable companies should check the ACNC Charity Register, not the ASIC Companies Register, to ensure that they access current information.”
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said the corporate, markets and financial services regulator was committed to working with the ACNC to educate the business community on the use of the registers.
“Banks and financial services providers continue to check our companies register for details of charitable companies, despite messages directing them to the ACNC Charity Register,” Tanzer said.
Pascoe said the two departments would be writing to representatives from the financial sector in an attempt to minimise the “significant financial pressure” being felt by charities.
“We hope that once the message filters down within these organisations it will decrease the impost that charities are currently facing,” she said.
“While this may sound like a minor issue, it has put many charities under significant financial pressure.
“Over the last three years we have been made aware of hundreds of instances where charities have been denied loans and other financial assistance.”
As well as being denied bank loans, other issues reported by charities included missing out on grants or funding, the loss of AAA credit ratings, previous directors being held accountable for the charity and previous directors being able to access charity bank accounts when they should no longer be able to do so.