Malcolm Fraser and Jeff Kennett have both been linked to a controversial â€œcharitable trustâ€ created by the former Honorary Consul General of India Talluri Jagannadha Rao.
While the unpaid Honorary Consul to Melbourne for India Rao charged a $15 surcharge on each visa issued to tourists and others heading to the exotic travel destination.
Rao used the proceeds to fund the operation of a large consulate operation in Coburg, Indian community insiders explain.
He also used his position of prominence in the Indian community to attract clients to his marriage counselling operation.
There is dispute within the Indian community about whether this surcharge ought to have been levied, although that is largely now an academic issue.
But what continues as a live concern within the Indian community is what happened with the surplus cash of more than $400,000 left over from Raoâ€™s reign.
Insiders tell VEXNEWS that there was an assumption that Rao would hand over the loot to one of the established and government backed Indian community organisations.
Rao has refused to do this and has instead engaged in what his critics slam as â€œempire-buildingâ€ by creating his own â€œAustralian Indian Benevolent & Charitable Trustâ€ which neither acts benevolently nor charitably according to sources within the Indian community.
Despite pressing needs within the Indian community, Rao is refusing to hand over the cash to those in need, his accusers claim.
The former unpaid honorary consul insists that the assets of the trust need to be built up to more than $1 million before he will activate the charitable functions of the tax-deductible trust.
Indian community figures also worry there is very little democratic accountability over Raoâ€™s organisation which has a hand-picked group of trustees who are essentially Raoâ€™s mates.
Rao is expected to face growing pressure to distribute the funds to what one critic explains are â€œcash-strapped and functioning Indian community organisations and to stop involving prominent retired Liberal politicians to lend legitimacy to an organisation that is not much more than a cash-box and an ego trip for a retired unpaid honorary consul who wants to cling to a position of prominence he lost some years ago. Itâ€™s a shame he canâ€™t put the interests of the community ahead of his own political power-games. We hope learns to let go and retire with dignity.â€