ICAC Investigations, Prosecutions and Penalties

How does the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) conduct investigations?

Before any prosecution is commenced, ICAC must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions.

ICAC provides information on its website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP.

 

Case Study: a recent ICAC investigation

 

ICAC report and date

23 February 2017 – Investigation into the conduct of a Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO and administrative officer (Operation Nestor).

 

Case Facts

An ICAC investigation found that former Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council (CBLALC) chief executive officer (CEO) Linda Stewart and former CBLALC administrative officer Veronica Skinner engaged in serious corrupt conduct by dishonestly exercising their functions to obtain money from the CBLALC to which they knew they were not entitled. 

The Commission found that between 2010-2012, both Ms Stewart and Ms Skinner deceived the CBLALC board members into signing cheques on the basis that they were for legitimate purposes. The cheques were then cashed to obtain money for the two women, who mainly spent the funds on poker machines.

While the exact amount of money illegally obtained could not be determined, a CBLALC audit letter noted that in the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, a number of cheques totalling over $77,000 had been drawn and cashed without supporting documentation such as an invoice.

Board members were required to sign the cheques because neither Ms Stewart nor Ms Skinner had the authority to do so. Many board members acknowledged that they had difficulties understanding the financial reports that Ms Stewart presented to them, and the report notes that the limited financial management skills and lack of management experience of board members led to them becoming overly reliant on Ms Stewart.

 

ICAC recommendations

The ICAC recommended that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Linda Stewart and Veronica Skinner for offences of fraud pursuant to section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 or, in the alternative, for offences of larceny by a servant pursuant to section 156 of the Crimes Act.

 

Status/Outcome

A brief of evidence was provided to the DPP on 21 April 2017.

On 7 December 2017, the DPP advised that there was sufficient evidence to charge Linda Stewart with:

  • 21 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage, pursuant to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • 12 counts of forgery under section 253 of the Crimes Act
  • 11 counts of making a false statement under section 192G of the Crimes Act.

On 20 February 2018, Ms Stewart was served with court attendance notices for these offences. The charges were mentioned at the Downing Centre Local Court on 22 March 2018. Ms Stewart was granted conditional bail and orders were made for service of the brief by 3 May 2018.

On 2 May 2018, Ms Stewart died. Prosecution proceedings against Ms Stewart were formally discontinued on 6 September 2018.

On 7 December 2017, the DPP advised that there was sufficient evidence to charge Veronica Skinner with:

  • 2 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage pursuant to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • 2 counts of forgery under section 253 of the Crimes Act.

On 30 July 2018, Ms Skinner was served with court attendance notices for these offences. The charges were mentioned at the Downing Centre Local Court on 13 September 2018. Ms Skinner was granted conditional bail and orders were made for service of the brief by 25 October 2018. The matter is next listed for reply on 8 November 2018.

Nyman Gibson Miralis specialise in complex corruption investigations involving the ICAC. Contact us if you require assistance.