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Shriners' charity cash went astray: Report




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Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/News/article/193741

Shriners' charity cash went astray: Report

Mar 20, 2007

NEW YORK–Millions of dollars raised by the Shriners to support hospitals was mixed with money used for liquor, parties and members' travel to events hosted by the national fraternal organization, The New York Times reported yesterday.

Michael C. Andrews, chief operating officer of the Shriners of North America, disputed the report, saying financial mismanagement was "very rare."

Records and interviews with current and former members of the 135-year-old Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine revealed "lax accounting procedures and oversight under which money earmarked for the hospitals instead financed temple activities," the newspaper said.

The Times found more than 57 per cent of the $32 million (U.S.) the Shriners raised in 2005 went to pay for such things as temple liquor and expense-paid trips. The money was raised through circuses, bingo games, raffles and a variety of sales.

The fraternal organization controls the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Twenty-two such hospitals offer free orthopedic and burn care to needy children.

The majority of funding for Shriners' hospitals comes from their $9 billion endowment; funds raised by the Shriners amount to only 2 per cent of the hospitals' operating income.

Poor accounting and fraud affect the organization, the Times said. More than 30 temples had discovered theft of money and inventory, altered bank statements, padded payrolls and fake invoices, it said.

There are 191 Shrine Temples, or chapters, in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Panama, the group says.

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