CLAIMS: Finsbury suspends former Waratah execs

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Finsbury Green has suspended its former Waratah executives Brett Chalmers and Stephen Kernahan over the World Vision corruption allegations.

Suspended: Steve Kernahan (left) and Brett Chalmers
Suspended: Steve Kernahan (left) and Brett Chalmers

According to an investigation by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald the duo were aware of, and in Chalmers case sighed off on, payments of $3000 a month to a World Vision printing advisor, and saw the $2.5m print contract for the charity awarded to Waratah Group as a result.

Peter Orel, CEO of Finsbury Green said, “Due to the gravity of the issues raised in the newspaper articles, both Stephen Kernahan and Brett Chalmers have been suspended from their roles at Finsbury Green pending the outcome of an internal review. Finsbury Green is happy to co-operate with any investigation.”

Orel said, “It is important to emphasise that whilst there was reference to Finsbury Green in the articles as we currently hold a printing contract with WVA (World Vision), there is absolutely no suggestion of impropriety by Finsbury Green.

“WVA became a customer of Finsbury Green on 9 December 2019. Whilst Finsbury Green had purchased the customers and contracts of Waratah Group from the administrators, WVA were not obliged to novate their contract across to Finsbury Green. WVA therefore chose to run a formal bid process that included bidders presenting credentials and capabilities. We understand that the ultimate decision to appoint Finsbury Green was made by a panel of senior executives at WVA.

“The articles allege that kickback payments were made by a printing company that formerly held the WVA printing contract. Finsbury Green was not aware of any such arrangements when we bid for and subsequently won the WVA contract.”

Stephen Kernahan and Brett Chalmers were shareholders of the Waratah Group and have subsequently been employed by Finsbury Green for the past four months. Waratah collapsed with debts in excess of $12m four months ago after a year-long battle with cashflow issues.

The Waratah Group had five shareholders, along with Chalmers and ex-AFL star Kernahan were another ex-AFL player Craig Bradley, and the Aboughattas brothers Moody and Abby. Read the story on its demise and tangled history here.

The World Vision charity faces difficult questions from donors over why it allowed a situation when some of their donations were used to fund foreign holidays and $3000 a month payments to an 'advisor'.

Last year World Vision spent 11.2 per cent of its $302m budget on fundraising, of which the printing of its direct mailshots, brochures and leaflets and other work is a crucial part of the sales and marketing mix.

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