Reporting corruption to the ICAC

Corruption is everyone’s problem.

Many investigations into corruption start with complaints or allegations submitted to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by private citizens, as well as by NSW public officials.

The ICAC encourages the reporting of corrupt conduct wherever there is a reasonable suspicion that it has occurred. The Commission provides guidelines as to when and how to report.


When does corruption occur?

Corrupt conduct is deliberate or intentional wrongdoing, rather than negligence or simply a mistake. Examples of corruption include:

  • A NSW public official abuses their position for personal gain.
  • A NSW public official breaches the public’s trust or misuses information.
  • A member of the public influences a NSW public official to misuse their position.


How can I report corruption to the ICAC?

Anyone who reasonably suspects corruption can make a complaint to the ICAC. Complaints may also be made anonymously.

There are three key steps to follow in reporting corruption to the ICAC.


Step 1: Determine whether the ICAC can investigate this matter

The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (NSW) limits investigations to allegations of corrupt conduct involving NSW public officials, and NSW public sector agencies such as government departments, local councils, universities and state owned corporations.

The ICAC can also investigate people or companies contracted to work on behalf of the public sector, or a member of the public trying to corruptly influence a NSW public official.


Step 2: Ensure you have all the relevant information

When making a complaint, be sure to cover the five W’s:

  • Who was involved – include the agency or company the person works for and their job title.
  • What occurred – describe incidents and the outcome.
  • When the incidents occurred.
  • Where the incidents occurred.
  • Why you believe the conduct is corrupt, rather than a mistake, negligence, or poor decision-making.

Additional information that may assist the ICAC includes:

  • How you became aware of the matter.
  • The names and contact details of anyone else who may be able to assist the ICAC.
  • Who else you have reported the matter to, including the details of any response you have received.
  • Details of any documents or other information that may assist the ICAC in assessing the matter.


Step 3: Lodge the complaint

Methods of lodging a complaint to the ICAC include:


What happens after the ICAC receives the complaint?

Once the ICAC receives your complaint, they will assess it to determine what action to take.

  • If they decide to take action, the ICAC can:
    • Make enquiries with the agency or person you have complained about.
    • Instruct the agency you have complained about to investigate the matter and report back to the ICAC.
    • Refer the matter either to the agency you have complained about, or to another agency.
    • Offer advice to an agency to help reduce the risk of future corruption.
    • Commence an ICAC investigation.

Once the ICAC has assessed your complaint, they will let you know the outcome, unless you have made an anonymous complaint.

It is important to keep in mind that the ICAC only investigates serious or systemic corruption.


What the ICAC does not do

The ICAC does not:

  • Investigate complaints about NSW Police. This is handled by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.
  • Investigate private individuals, private companies and public officials or public sector agencies outside NSW.
  • Mediate disputes between you and others.
  • Review or overturn decisions by public sector agencies
  • Direct public sector agencies to take particular actions, including to pay you compensation.


Key takeaways

Anyone can make a complaint to the ICAC if they have a reasonable suspicion that corrupt conduct has occurred, and the matter is within the ICAC’s purview. When lodging a complaint, it is important to ensure that all the relevant details are included, to increase the chances of an investigation being successful.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation to individuals and companies who are being investigated for corruption by the ICAC.

Contact us if you require assistance.