Portadown Masonic Recreation Club confirmed this week that they had called in the PSNI to carry out a full investigation into alleged mismanagement of funds after tens of thousands of pounds were reported to have gone missing from the accounts.
A statement from secretary Ronnie Harkness said that the full amount of the missing funds was still being assessed, and that an officer of the club had been suspended while the police investigations continued.
It is understood that the PSNI alerted the club during a probe into an alleged charity fraud, unconnected to the Masons, where a reported £100,000 disappeared from the trust fund of a family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. The Portadown Times has been told that the two issues are separate, even though the same person – a Portadown man – is being questioned on both situations.
The other charity was set up some years ago for the benefit of the family of an unidentified soldier from the Royal Irish Rangers who was killed by the Taliban.
The issue has rocked Portadown Masons, although Mr Harkness insisted that reports in a Sunday newspaper that the recreation club had closed were simply not right. The popular Saturday night dances and other social activities are continuing as normal, including bookings for Christmas and New Year functions.
Portadown Masonic Hall in Thomas Street is the nerve centre of Masonic activities in the town and district. Around nine local lodges use it, as well as various branches of the Masonic Order.
The family of the dead soldier recently went to check the account and, according to reports, it was discovered that the trust fund was empty. This led to a probe into the Masonic Recreation Club account and there was alleged discrepancies there, too.
Newspaper reports claimed that £60,000 has gone astray in the case of the Masons, but the Portadown Times understands the amount is still being assessed.
A PSNI spokesman said, “The PSNI can confirm that they are investigating fraudulent activity in relation to a charitable organisation in Portadown. Enquiries are ongoing.”