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Investigation continues into NSW RSL

Report findings have put NSW RSL in bad light.

The state government has referred former NSW RSL president Don Rowe to police over claims he used his corporate credit card to withdraw $200,000 in cash.

NSW Minister for Veterans Affairs David Elliott said he made the referral on Wednesday afternoon after reviewing a damning interim report into claims senior figures at the NSW branch were stockpiling millions of dollars in consultancy payments instead of spending it on veterans.

Minister for Fair Trading Victor Dominello has also been asked to investigate the alleged claims to determine whether there has been a breach of charity laws, Elliott said.

Attorney General Gabrielle Upton has been asked to investigate whether the Charitable Trusts Act was broken, he said.

“The interim report raised serious questions which need answers as soon as possible so those found doing the wrong thing can be held accountable,” said Elliot.

The report released on Tuesday by firm KordaMentha, said Rowe and current national president Rod White were among several other RSL directors who received more than $2.5 million in consultancy fees from an aged care charity within the league, RSL LifeCare.

There was a “lack of documentation” about how these funds were diverted across RSL sub-branches for the past 10 years, it said, and the pair may have used their positions to do so.

The explosive report also included revelations that Rowe incurred about $475,000 in expenses on his RSL credit card from January 2009 to December 2014.

Around $38,000 of those payments were made to pay Rowe’s phone bills.

White demanded Rowe’s resignation after being made aware of the expenses claims but failed to inform anyone about the incident, the report said.

Rowe subsequently resigned in November 2014, citing health problems.

The findings could lead to the NSW RSL branch losing its charitable status.

White and NSW RSL treasurer Bill Hardman stood down in November, and two other state councillors were asked to do the same when the claims first arose.

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