A court has fined a former fundraiser and two of its officers a total of $13,000 for conducting fundraising activities while unregistered, and failing to meet their legal obligations relating to banking appeal money and record-keeping. They have also been ordered to pay costs totalling almost $8,500.
Our Director took criminal action against Elderly Citizens Help Organisation (ECHO) Inc, Michael Nazzari and John O’Hanlon in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court.
At the time of the offending, Mr Nazzari was ECHO’s president, while Mr O’Hanlon was (and remains) its secretary. ECHO is an incorporated association.
The court found that ECHO committed criminal offences under Victorian fundraising laws by:
- conducting fundraising activities when not registered to do so
- not banking money raised from fundraising appeals as required by law
- not keeping sufficient records as required by law.
The court also found that Mr Nazzari, 69, of Oakleigh, and Mr O’Hanlon, 69, of Pascoe Vale, knowingly authorised or permitted ECHO to commit the offences; and in doing so, that they committed the same offences.
ECHO was convicted, fined $5,000, and ordered to pay costs of $2,750. Mr Nazzari was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay costs of $2,968.31. He was not convicted. Mr O’Hanlon was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay costs of $2,750. He was not convicted.
ECHO first came to our attention when its annual statements and fundraising applications showed less than 35 per cent of its fundraising proceeds went to beneficiaries. This is contrary to the Fundraising Guidelines. For these reasons, our Director refused the association’s application to renew its fundraiser registration.
The offences occurred between April 2016 and May 2017.