Churches dragged into Santoro share controversy

Profits on an undisclosed shareholding of Senator Santo Santoro, were not donated to charity as claimed by the Federal Aged Care Minister but to the Family Council of Australia of which the Catholic Church is a member, reports say.

An Age report says that Senator Santoro was offered the $6000 parcel of shares after apparently helping the body secure federal funding for a "Family Expo".

The shares in CBio Limited were reportedly offered to Senator Santoro in late 2005 by Family Council of Queensland president Alan Baker, who is also an associate director with Retirewell Financial Planning.

Senator Santoro has admitted "technically" breaching the ministerial code of conduct by holding on to his shares in CBio - which is developing a treatment for arthritis - after being appointed Minister for Ageing in January 2006.

He has previously said that he forgot he still owned the shares, which he bought about a month before he became a minister, but that he informed the Prime Minister and sold the shares as soon as he realised.

However, the Age also says that while Senator Santoro was reported to have donated the profits on the sale to charity, the Family Council of Queensland is not a registered charity but an ecumenical non-profit, non-politically-aligned organisation meant to promote family values and strengthen marriage.

Members include the Australian Family Association, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Church and the Endeavour Forum.

But Mr Baker told the Age that there was no "funny business" involved.

"It was all above board and it was a legitimate investment opportunity, which was being offered to someone who had done a favour for ... a worthwhile cause in facilitating a community service project with which I was involved."

"I was not acting in my capacity as president of the Family Council of Queensland when I offered Senator Santoro the parcel of shares. I was acting in my capacity as an (authorised representative) of a licensed securities dealer," he told the Age.

'Favour' behind share deal (The Age, 15/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Santo Santoro website
Family Expo

15 Mar 2007

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