No evidence of Brethren poll meddling

Herald-Sun, Australia/February 18, 2008

Federal police say they have uncovered no evidence to support claims the Exclusive Brethren Christian sect breached electoral and money-laundering laws.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty said today that investigations into the Exclusive Brethren were yet to be finalised but it appeared the claims were unsubstantiated.

A series of complaints about the Brethren's activities had been referred to the AFP, Mr Keelty told a Senate estimates hearing today.

It received two referrals from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in 2007 but only one - relating to election funding totalling some $300,000 for the 2004 federal poll - was investigated with no evidence of wrongdoing disclosed.

In October, the AEC referred a complaint from the Australian Labor Party about distribution of unauthorised advertising allegedly by or on behalf of the Exclusive Brethren.

No information was provided to support assertions that the Brethren was responsible and the investigation was discontinued.

A third referral came from another source and related to a ABC Four Corners program in which it was suggested the Brethren had breached electoral and anti-money laundering laws.

Mr Keelty said no evidence was uncovered to substantiate the claims, although that investigation had yet to be finalised.

"At that point in time, we will be able to report on the outcome of that investigation," he said.

The Exclusive Brethren has been accused of campaigning in support of conservative parties in elections in Australia and overseas.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.