NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, a star media performer for the State Government, is under pressure to produce the results of an inquiry into the dubious charity called Just Enough Faith Foundation based in the inner-city suburb of Rozelle.

Six months ago JEFF came under official investigation after huge sums of money were found to have passed from the homeless charity into poker machines and other forms of gambling.

In State Parliament this week, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon asked Police Minister Tony Kelly when the results of the inquiry would be made public “to help ensure that this kind of conduct does not compromise public confidence in the charitable sector”.

Rhiannon told MPs that 10 unlawful fund-raising appeals had been identified by the Department of Gaming and Racing and that they had been referred to Scipione for possible action under the Crimes Act and the Charitable Fundraising Act.

She added: “Was one of the unlawful fundraising events the September 2005 world premiere of the Hollywood movie Cinderella Man at the Fox entertainment precinct, where more than $1 million was raised for the charity JEFF?”

Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ron Howard told the story of washed-up pugilist James Braddock and his comeback to heavyweight fame in the 1930s.

JEFF is still supported by volunteers who have largely put aside media revelations about the charity’s founder Jeff Gambin who remains in charge with his wife, Alina.

On May 1, Sydney Morning Herald reporters Kelly Burke and Erik Jensen wrote:

Jeff Gambin has come under increasing pressure by trustees and volunteers to resign since it emerged more than a week ago that hundreds of thousands of dollars in the foundation’s bank account appeared to have been used by Mr Gambin for gambling and other personal expenses between June 2005 and July 2007.

It also emerged that the foundation set up by Mr Gambin in 1993 to feed the city’s homeless had been operating without a licence to fund-raise for all but six months of the past 11 years.

In 2004, a Packer-controlled PBL company, whose directors included multi-millionaires John Alexander, Gretel Packer and Mark Bouris, channeled about $1.8 million into JEFF bank accounts but the relationship foundered and was terminated in 2007.

Gambin’s good works were celebrated in one of Geraldine Doogue’s god-bothering Compass programs in 2001 in which he was described as Indian-born of Tibetan parents who came to Australia in the 1960s to become an award-winning restaurateur running Mexican, Indian and Asian restauraunts.

Others have described him as a Walter Mitty character, which is probably why he endeared himself to John Alexander.

Peter Fray

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