A SCHEME to raise millions of pounds for good causes from wealthy members of the Scottish diaspora has collapsed amid bitter claims of a lack of Government support and allegations of incompetent management.
The Scotland Funds was created three years ago with the aim of tapping into the goodwill of the millions of Americans who claim Scottish descent.
Money raised would have been handed over to projects in Scotland, but it folded last week, having raised nothing.
The Funds' chief executive Dick Mungin spoke out last night to defend his record, amid accusations that the project had flopped because he and his team had failed to impress sponsors enough to persuade them to part with their cash.
Mungin said that the attacks were "facile", with his fellow directors insisting the project had been forced to close because of a lack funds. Mungin approached the Scottish Government last year with the idea of turning the project into a public-private partnership, but says he received no response.
The failure of the project has now turned into a bitter war of words.
One Scottish Government source said concerns had been raised because the Scotland Funds had shown no sign of actually being able to bring in money. "It wasn't very clear how and when that was going to happen. It isn't reasonable to fund that unless there is a clear benefit," the source said.
Another business figure who initially backed the project said: "It just didn't deliver – it's as simple as that."
Mungin, however, said: "High-profile projects such as the Scotland Funds often attract detractors. Criticism over delivery is in this case facile, especially given our scarce resources, and we note that none of the critics are prepared to be identified. Your readers can draw their own conclusions."
Fellow board member Derek Reid said: "The problem was one of inadequate funding. The private sector had not supported us to levels we thought were necessary, and the Scottish Government for their own reasons have decided also not to take this forward."
The apparent fall-out between the Scotland Funds and the Scottish Government is all the more embarrassing as its founder in 2005 was Jim Mather, now the SNP's Enterprise Minister.
A Government spokesman said: "As is the case with all funding applications, a robust business case must be provided demonstrating the merit of the project and linking to the Scottish Government's strategic objectives."