The Courier-Mail

Federal police seize documents during raid on Searle’s charity

- PETER BADEL CHRIS GARRY TODD BALYM JEREMY PIERCE

INVESTIGAT­ORS have seized documents as the Australian Federal Police ramps up its inquiry into a charity run by former Titans owner Michael Searle.

The AFP raided Searle’s offices on behalf of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on Thursday morning in relation to the Titans 4 To- morrow program. Searle’s legal representa­tive, Brendan Nyst, confirmed investigat­ors executed a search warrant after attending T4T’s offices at Southport.

An investigat­ion by Courier-Mail can reveal:

T4T has fallen behind in staff wages, with employees alleging they have not been paid for three weeks.

Employees have not received superannua­tion for the past 12 months.

Chairman Joshua Creamer

The stood down from the T4T board in June.

Searle is being sued by the Australian Taxation Office for $287,720.90 over debts related to another company called JFW Investment­s, of which he is the sole director.

It is understood more than a dozen officers were involved in the raid, ordering staff to vacate the building for the day as they spent up to six hours sifting through documents.

The Prime Minister’s office stressed that Searle’s home had not been searched. Searle declined to comment yesterday, referring inquiries to his legal representa­tive.

Searle resigned as Titans chief executive last year and then lost his share in the club when it was placed in voluntary administra­tion after an NRL takeover in February.

The Titans NRL club no longer has any connection to Searle or the T4T charity, which is involved in indigenous welfare programs.

The Titans were last year found guilty of salary cap breaches. The NRL said this latest investigat­ion was not linked to any cap issues.

Searle clinched the Titans licence in 2005 and worked hard to build the expansion club. However, a series of poor decisions during the global financial crisis saw the club plunge into a $30 million debt.

It is understood several staff members were made redundant early this year when the T4T program had its federal funding heavily reduced.

 ??  ?? FUNDING CUT: Michael Searle declined to comment.
FUNDING CUT: Michael Searle declined to comment.

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