DAN BOX AND JUSTINE FERRARI THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 01, 2014
CHILD sex abuse victims are being compensated out of interest the Catholic Church earns from investing the billions of dollars it receives in government grants for schools.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has received evidence from a church whistleblower suggesting at least one Catholic diocese ultimately profits from interest received on state and commonwealth government education grants.
The Australian has also confirmed that the practice, under which the grants are compulsorily invested in accounts held within each diocese’s “internal treasury” or development fund, also takes place elsewhere across NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
Each diocese’s development fund acts like a bank, repaying an agreed rate of interest on the education funds they hold to the schools. They also pool this money with other assets invested with commercial banks at a higher rate of interest, often generating multi-million-dollar, tax-free surpluses each year.
Part of this money is, in turn, transferred to special funds under the direct control of each bishop and at least one regional diocese is understood to have transferred more than $1 million in this way last year. In some dioceses, these discretionary funds are then used to pay for the lawyers and compensation payments involved in abuse cases brought against the church. Details of the church’s finances are rarely made public and the existence of this money trail has been criticised, including by those who have received compensation payments for such
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