Ex-RSL NSW boss admits to spending $475,000 on corporate credit card

Ex-RSL NSW boss admits to spending $475,000 on corporate credit card A former president of RSL NSW has admitted to misusing the charitys money to buy mobile phones and flights for his family, as well as pay off his own mortgage Don Rowe, who resigned in 2014, made a lengthy apology for his failings as RSL leader at a public inquiry into the leagues finances today in Sydney

An earlier investigation revealed Mr Rowe spent $475,000 on a corporate credit card over a six-year period, including $213,000 in cash withdrawals That investigation only covered a six-year period, although Mr Rowe was president for 11 years I apologise to the RSL NSW, RSL LifeCare and WBI, and to the members of the wider RSL family and to the members of the public, who have donated money to each of the RSL in NSW, Mr Rowe said Much of the media interest in respect to these issues have led to the establishment of the public inquiry related to expenditure incurred on the credit card provided to me for my use by RSL Mr Rowes evidence in regard to his own personal spending, including a $475,000 credit card bill, mobile phones bought for his family, and inappropriate spending on accommodation and flights, has been highly anticipated

I recognise that I should not have made cash withdrawals on the state presidents card in respect to the annual motor vehicle allowance of $20,000 provided in the state president expenses guidelines, he said And I accept that by doing so, I acted in a way which was not expressly permitted by the state presidents guidelines, and that it was not good practice to have done so He later told the inquiry his failure to document his expenses was not deliberate Counsel assisting the inquiry, Anthony Cheshire, pressed Mr Rowe about using allowances intended for specific purposes Mr Rowe said in his evidence he took the full annual car allowance of $20,000 available per year, and used it to pay off the mortgage on his house, which he had drawn down on to buy a car

He also admitted paying for meals for other state councillors on his corporate credit card, even though they all had their own allowances When Mr Cheshire asked Mr Rowe why he had allowed such spending to continue even though he knew it was wrong, Mr Rowe said he had no excuse Rowe resigned over expenses scandal, not poor health When Mr Rowe did resign in 2014, the reason given to RSL members and the public was ill health But he today confirmed there was much more to the story

[Then national RSL president Rod White] approached me and gave me an ultimatum — resign or my expenses would be forensic audited, Mr Rowe said I accept that my resignation letter did not tell the full story, and it ought to have done so He also said concerns were raised about his expenditure only once in the 11 years before he was given the ultimatum Mr Rowe was expected to give evidence all day and tomorrow, but the hearing ended early today and he has been excused as a witness Former NSW Supreme Court justice Patricia Bergin, who is chairing the inquiry, indicated it was because Mr Rowe had been a cooperative witness

Its noted that the way that you have approached your evidence today has in fact saved some time for this inquiry, she said As with other witnesses at the inquiry, Mr Rowe can still be prosecuted over the matters in question, but the evidence he has given today cannot be used in any future case against him The inquiry will continue later this week

Source: Youtube

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