Statement from Ricky Nixon:
“Given the publicity surrounding alleged missing money from funds raised for Dakota Duke’s rehabilitation, I demand a full audit of all bank accounts of people associated with the fund-raising, including Tania Drummond, the Duke family and myself. An audit overseen by police, with the findings of police reported. I wish to emphasise that the money was raised in good faith for Dakota’s rehabilitation and should not have been used by any third party for any means other than expenses associated with the fund-raising.
“When I first offered to help the Duke family it was because very few people in Bendigo seemed interested. I agreed to help on one condition and one condition only – that I do not have anything to do with the money. I raised up to $55,000 for Dakota’s rehabilitation. I had no access to these funds. I did not open bank accounts. I have never directed anyone to take money out of any bank accounts associated with this fund-raising. I am absolutely appalled that some media have misled people into thinking I may be involved in some way. Should the police wish to speak to me on this matter they will have my full co-operation. This has left a very sour taste in my mouth. I am very worried and disappointed for Dakota that a person or person(s) have let her down in this manner.
“Tania Drummond has never been a paid employee of mine at any time, and was asked on numerous occasions to stop suggesting that she was.”
The Bendigo Advertiser then asked Mr Nixon to clarify some of his statements, with the following questions:
1. How much was withdrawn to cover expenses and what were they?
2. Were you paid a management fee and if so, how much?
3. Have you been questioned by police in relation to this matter?
4. Tania Drummond has stated she made the withdrawals at your request – is this true and if so, what was the money used for?
5. Why did you want nothing to do with the money and request your name not be associated with any bank accounts, despite your company hosting the fund-raiser?
6. If Tania Drummond was not employed by you, why did you allow the account to be established in her name?
7. If you raised up to $55,000 for Dakota, why is the family unaware it was $20,000 more than the figure they had been told?
Mr Nixon’s reply is as follows:
1. I offered to help the Duke family because very few people in Bendigo did. Not one person offered to organise an event, including the North Bendigo Football Club and the Bendigo Junior Football League.
2. I agreed to do the fund-raising on one condition – that I do not have anything to do with the banking of money. The reason for this was that I had investigated several times via Bendigo Bank about setting up a foundation and having a trust but it could not be done in time. There were taxation issues and all sorts of other issues hence I decided that the money should be the responsibility of the family and others.
3. The event cost me in excess of $5,000. Costs including printing, some auction items, videos, petrol, telephone and time (I made six trips to Bendigo, spent more than 100 hours organising sponsors, auction items, a Buddy Franklin video, etc)
4. I compered the event for free.
5. Most charities are charged a 20 per cent management fee. I did not charge one cent!
6. The Dukes agreed to pay me $1500 to cover my petrol.
7. I paid for a mobile phone for six months for the event, and an email address.
8. Of the 14 groups who played golf, I arranged 13 of them.
9. I arranged all the auction items.
10. I arranged for the biggest names in AFL to attend Bendigo for the function.
11. No money from the event for golf, auction items, etc – or for that matter, raffles or collection money – was ever in my possession nor paid to me.
12. Under no circumstances did I direct anyone to withdraw money from funds raised
13. Tania Drummond offered to help the Dukes in October 2011 at a fashion parade. She volunteered. I had never met her before that night.
14. Tania Drummond has never been a paid employee of mine and was told several times to stop promoting that she is my assistant. My assistant is Suzanne Jones.
15. I have not spoken to police, however if they don’t speak to me shortly I will personally drive to Bendigo next week and walk in to the police station and provide a statement. I have absolutely nothing to hide and am sick of the pathetic rumour and innuendo that comes at a time when my son is trying to complete his year 11 exams.
16. I was completely oblivious to any money missing until I returned from hospital at the end of August. I was only alerted to it when I went to Bendigo to see the Dukes. I was shocked, angry and disillusioned that someone would do what they have done. I then spent the best part of six weeks trying to get the money back. No one else offered to help.
17. It is believed that $43,000 was raised on the day. I only say this because that is what the Dukes have told me. I don’t know precisely what was raised because I didn’t have access to the bank accounts nor did I collect the money or distribute it. Jodie Duke then contacted me while I was in hospital for a month interstate in August and asked if I thought Sportsbet might donate more. She then went behind my back and contacted them directly, asking for more money. Unbeknown to me at the time they gave her another $10,000. I was flabbergasted that she would do that and thought it very rude. Hence I am led to believe that $53,000, or thereabouts, was raised.
18. Just because I agreed to help does not make me responsible for everything associated with the event.
19. I did not instruct Tania Drummond at any stage to open a bank account. I can only assume she spoke to the Dukes.
20. I’m happy for the Bendigo Advertiser to print my bank statements on its front page.
21.To print unfounded statements that someone directed Tania Drummond to withdraw money is an absolute disgrace.
22. I wish it to be made very clear that I wanted the police informed, not the media. If I was in anyway associated with missing money why would I want the police involved?
23. Finally, it disgusts me that I should have to spend so much time defending myself when the person who suffers is Dakota. Perhaps the media might want to focus its time and energy on helping return the missing money and assisting Dakota’s rehabilitation.