Thursday, April 24, 2008

Charity had high-profile support but no trace of paper trail, by Connie Levett and Erik Jensen - The Sydney Morning Herald - 21st April 2008

Two former supporters of Just Enough Faith, a charity that feeds the homeless in Sydney, expressed serious concern yesterday about the way its founder, Jeff Gambin, has managed it.

The charity, which once had the support of the Packer family and such high profile backers as Alan Jones and Russell Crowe, is in the spotlight after The Sunday Telegraph published allegations that Mr Gambin financially mismanaged it.

The stockbroker Tim Buckley was a volunteer with the charity when Mr Gambin asked him to join a six-member committee, Friends of Just Enough Faith, that was to take over the operations of Just Enough Faith.

He became public officer on the committee but resigned from that post, and from the committee, last July.

"My No. 1 concern was the lack of any financial records, any bank statements, any paperwork, any procedures that suggested the charity was even remotely complying with the requirements for a charity," Mr Buckley said yesterday. "That was my observation. If those procedures were being done, I was not privy to them, yet I had 100 per cent access to the offices of Just Enough Faith. If such paperwork existed I never saw it."

Mr Gambin has been lauded for his work with the homeless. He received a humanitarian of the year award in 2000. In 2005 Russell Crowe premiered his film Cinderella Man at a charity fund-raiser hosted by Alan Jones and sponsored by the Packers that raised $1.3 million.

"PBL had agreed under Kerry Packer's guidance it would fund up to $66,000 a month to the extent that documentation was provided," Mr Buckley said.

"The first $1.3 million was paid without documentation and only one more payment was made after that, because we were unable to provide documentation."

Alan Byrne, another committee member of Friends of Just Enough Faith, told the Herald Mr Gambin "comes across as brilliant, very charismatic. He undoes more than he does".

"I never saw any money physically go into the charity," Mr Byrne said. "He used to sit in the committee and say 'I know I've done wrong'. I think he meant the money wasn't going where it was supposed to be going."

At Callan Park yesterday, the charity's operations manager, Ian MacGregor, said he did not know of Mr Gambin's gambling and had not seen details of the charity's finances. He said Mr Gambin often paid running costs without him knowing whether it was Mr Gambin's money or the charity's.

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