Shane Warne’s Charity Cleared of Wrongdoing, Still to Close
12 January 2017 at 4:06 pm
Former cricketer Shane Warne’s charity has been cleared of any wrongdoing related to its fundraising activities after the wrap up of a Consumer Affairs investigation.
The watchdog began its 11-month investigation into The Shane Warne Foundation in February last year after concerns were raised about the charity’s reporting and accounting practices.
Largely this was due to the foundation’s “inconsistent and late” reporting about its financial affairs.
Consumer Affairs director Simon Cohen said in a public statement that no more-serious instances of misconduct were found.
“The inquiries demonstrate non‑compliance by the foundation with some provisions of the [Fundraising] Act, in particular, requirements to submit annual accounts in a timely manner,” Cohen said.
“Importantly, the inquiries have not otherwise found evidence of unlawful conduct or a failure on the part of the foundation to give the net proceeds of appeals to named beneficiaries.”
However, he advised the foundation in October 2016 that he was considering whether to deregister it due to the low proportion of funds distributed to beneficiaries in recent years.
In its first five years of operation, from 2005, the foundation reported that a high proportion of funds were delivered to its beneficiaries, approximately 70 per cent each year.
However, since then, the watchdog said the foundation had distributed a low proportion of funds to beneficiaries.
“A cause of this was the foundation’s high level of expenses when compared to its income,” Cohen said.
Fairfax also reported that from 2011 to 2013 the foundation passed on just 16 cents of every dollar it raised.
According to the fundraising registration guidelines, fundraisers that distribute less than 35 per cent of funds raised must justify why they should still be registered.
However, the foundation announced its intention to close in January 2016, and then in December entered an undertaking with Consumer Affairs to wind up as soon as practicable and cease all fundraising activities.
Cohen said this meant no further action was required. Consumer Affairs will still monitor the foundation’s activities as it closes.
Warne welcomed the outcome of the investigation.
“As expected CAV and the Commonwealth charity regulators have cleared The Shane Warne Foundation of any wrong doing besides one late lodging of annual accounts by the due date in 2015,” he said on Facebook.
“The foundation, myself, management, ambassadors and the board have always maintained that nothing inappropriate had occurred and now it’s official after these thorough investigations.
“It’s disappointing one particular media publication continued to run inaccurate and baseless articles that mislead the public. Thank you to everyone for their unwavering support, it has meant a lot to all of us.”
The Shane Warne Foundation also released a statement announcing its next steps.
“The foundation announced its intention to wind up in January 2016. Since that time, it has spent significant resources responding to inquiries from the Victorian and Commonwealth charity regulators,” it said.
“Now that those inquiries are complete, with no finding of any wrongdoing relating to its fundraising activities, the foundation will take all steps necessary to wind up its operations as soon as possible and make a final distribution to its beneficiaries.”
The foundation said more than $4 million had been distributed to 130 charities that help sick and underprivileged children since its launch.