Mystery Over Brisbane Broncos' Money Trail Under Investigation By National Rugby League
A A$300,000 ($280,300) repayment to the Broncos Leagues Club, thought to have been used for cash payments to players outside the salary cap, "has ramifications that could extend to a bid" to buy the National Rugby League franchise from owners News Corp. and return Wayne Bennett as coach, according to Roy Masters of the BRISBANE TIMES. The NRL is investigating cash payments totaling A$470,000 ($439,000) to Broncos players, "but described the serpentine, sometimes undocumented trail as complicated and requiring time to probe." While the A$300,000 repayment "may satisfy auditors of the Broncos Leagues Club, it has not placated NRL salary-cap investigators who are concerned about a significant breach." Nor has the potential breach "escaped the attention of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, after the Broncos Leagues Club volunteered to the regulator sloppy governance" that surrounded the initial A$300,000 in payments from its accounts. Mystery "surrounds the source" of the A$300,000 refunded, "although it is believed to have come from Broncos football manager Andrew Gee, who resigned his post and also tendered his resignation from the board of the Broncos Leagues Club shortly after the Brisbane outfit self-reported the potential salary-cap breach on the eve of the first State of Origin match" (BRISBANE TIMES, 7/16).