Shane Warne Foundation announces closure after speculation over funds

The Shane Warne Foundation has announced it will close days after the Australian cricketer declared it had “nothing to hide” amid a Victorian government probe into the financial and reporting practices of the charity.

The closure of the foundation, citing “recent, unwarranted speculation”, was announced on Friday in a statement.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (Cav) began monitoring the cricketer’s philanthrophic organisation in October after it failed to lodge an annual statement.

“Cav subsequently made a number of requests for the required financial information, however what was provided was not sufficient,” a spokesperson for the watchdog told the ABC this week.

“Because of this, on 24 December 2015 the director of Cav ... issued a formal request with The Shane Warne Foundation (TSWF) for an independent auditor’s report on its fundraising activities for the past three-and-a-half years.”

The audit is due to be completed on 29 February.

Warne responded to the news of the investigation on Sunday in a 600-word Facebook post declaring: “We have absolutely nothing to hide.”

“This is a disgrace and absurd and will go down as an expense,” he said of the probe, which was to be funded by the foundation.

“Go through everything you want at anytime as we have nothing to hide, but you pay for it, as the foundation would rather spend the 10,000 dollars on children in need than on an audit.”

He said the foundation, established in 2004, had given away $3.8m of the total $7.8m it had raised over its lifetime. A final cheque would be distributed on 18 March, raising the total to over $4m, the foundation said in a statement.

Statements lodged in 2014 with the federal government charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), show the foundation spent $281,434 on fundraising that year.

Its efforts raised a total of $279,198, less than it spent on fundraising costs, for a total 2014 revenue of $452,711.

Financial records obtained by Fairfax Media in November reportedly showed the organisation raised $1.8m between 2011 and 2013 but donated an average of only 16 cents per dollar to institutions caring for sick and underprivileged youth.

TSWF has said the figure was 30 cents per dollar in 2014.

According to Fairfax, one year the organisation paid its chief executive, Warne’s brother Jason, a salary of $80,000 but only distributed $54,600 to its beneficiaries.

The records also reportedly show the organisation spent more than $300,000 on catering, alcohol and prizes for events while posting significant annual losses.

Patrons of the high-profile organisation include film stars Liz Hurley and Russell Crowe. The former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke and broadcaster Karl Stefanovic are among those listed as ambassadors.

Powered by article was written by Michael Safi, for on Friday 29th January 2016 04.04 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010