Zappia launches defence of Sharks fund - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Zappia launches defence of Sharks fund

15/06/2009 07:19:29 PM Comments (0)

Former Cronulla chief executive Tony Zappia has gone public in defence of his secret foundation as he prepares to explain why he hid $30,000 in donations from the NRL club's board.

Zappia has appeared on the Nine Network armed with receipts and bank statements following the allegations of financial irregularities levelled at the former CEO by a terminally ill club benefactor.

Zappia had reportedly asked the fan, who wanted to set up the foundation to assist the cash-strapped club, to send thousands of dollars to his home address.

"I've got all the records of all the emails we exchanged, I have all the documents in regards to where the money is," Zappia told Nine on Monday.

The Nine report said $20,000 was in investment and bank accounts and receipts showed the remainder had been spent on a team camp and a computer for assistant coach Shane Flanagan.

It said the Sharks had stood to pocket $14 million when the benefactor died.

Zappia said he had not pocketed "a cent" and had kept the foundation secret because the benefactor had asked him to, a claim the man denied.

"I was asked to keep it in the strictest confidence by the gentleman concerned and that was my reason for it," Zappia said.

He denied he was hoarding the money in order to rort the NRL salary cap by paying players with it.

"The money's still there so we haven't used it for anything, the money's been invested," he said.

The 27-year-old fan, who wants to remain anonymous, contacted the club last year, offering money from an insurance payout.

Zappia established the Beyond Sharks Foundation and told the fan to send the money to his western Sydney home address, the Seven Network reported on Sunday.

The fan said he had sent six cheques totalling $30,000, posting all but one to Zappia's home address.

Four of the cheques were made out to Zappia and two to the foundation.

Zappia is scheduled to front outgoing chairman Barry Pierce and the Sharks board at 4.30pm on Tuesday, before a 6pm board meeting.

"Following such meetings the Sharks will fully cooperate with the NRL should they request and/or require any additional information in relation to this matter," the Sharks said in a statement on Monday.

Zappia resigned last week following allegations about his handling of a 2008 incident in which former employee Jenny Hall was left with a black eye.

Meanwhile, the Sharks have hosed down a furore after some of their country members told ABC radio their tickets were not available to be picked up at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.

"The tickets were definitely dropped at the box office at Canberra Stadium and we've rung a handful of those people and there's no problem with anyone we've rung," a Sharks spokesman told AAP.

In better news for the club, forwards Paul Gallen (shoulder) and Anthony Tupou (knee) have been cleared of serious injuries.

Gallen has avoided any further damage to his badly bruised shoulder, while Tupou is likely to miss 1-2 weeks.

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