Tamworth charity One of a Kind Community Support faces allegations it traded insolvent and that managers misspent thousands of dollars before the organisation went into administration in 2019, according to a voluntary administrator report published this week.
The 49-year-old charity was forced to sell almost all of its assets, including several buildings it owned.
It closed most of its stores and drastically downsized during administration after 2019. It also laid-off 21 of 22 staff.
The charity's new volunteer president and treasurer Michael Ticehurst, appointed after the charity emerged from voluntary administration, said the charity remained both solvent and operational, but said the "emotional hurt" of the turmoil "is still being felt across the region".
The charity released two years of financial statements to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission on Wednesday.
The finances included a damning report by the organisation's voluntary administrator Andrew Barnden, from insolvency and business consulting firm Rogers Reidy, who considered recommending pursuing the company's old board for alleged breaches of company rules.
Mr Barnden said as much as $16,120.36 in 150 transactions may have been misspent by the charity and recommended investigating the expenditure if it was liquidated.
Mr Barnden recommended against both actions partly due to the likely cost of legal fees and because creditors and staff were able to be repaid their full entitlements by selling assets.
"Based on investigations undertaken by me, it appears the association may have possibly been trading insolvent since September 2019," the administrator's report said.
"However, the exact date will require detailed investigations and consideration of the defences that may be available to the committee members."
The administrator said any investigation into insolvency trading would be hindered by the "very poor levels of governance, accountability and transparency" and alleged poor financial bookkeeping at the charity, before it slid into administration.
The Rogers Reidy report said the company credit card included 150 transactions for restaurant, childcare, recreation and other costs that may have been for personal use.
The Leader understands that no investigation or legal action has taken place in relation to the findings in the administrator's report.
At its peak, One of a Kind ran ten opportunity stores and dabbled in work for the dole contracts, including in Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Dalby, Narrabri and Armidale.
As the company expanded rapidly from 2015 to 2018, both revenue and costs grew dramatically, but income per store declined.
In October 2019 it appointed a voluntary administrator.
In Tamworth, One of a Kind was forced to sell buildings at 63 Denne Street and 3 Hill Street, assets it had owned for more than 25 years, to meet voluntary administration costs, and allow the charity to continue operating.
The company was also forced to enter a payment plan with the Australian Tax Office, according to the administrator's report.
Audited finances reveal the company was still losing money last year, making a combined loss of $574,000 over the two years to 2020, despite downsizing, selling off all its assets but for a store in Narrabri, and receiving government COVID subsidies.
Mr Ticehurst said a new committee appointed after the charity left administration in early 2020 had created a new charitable social enterprise business model based on a large op shop and recycling facility in Avro Street Taminda, Tamworth, processing and selling recycled goods.
"After commencing as Lifeline in 1972, we will still be here next year providing One of a Kind community support when we celebrate 50 years in 2022", he said.
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