ICAC issues corruption finding against former uni IT manager

Anti-corruption watchdog says DPP advice should be sought about possible criminal charges

Brett Roberts — a former IT manager at the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University — engaged in corrupt conduct, according to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ICAC in February held a public inquiry into allegations of corruption. According to the anti-corruption body, Roberts netted $86,000 in corrupt payments for work that was not done.

ICAC said that advice should be obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions about potential prosecution of Roberts for a number of offences.

Roberts was employed at the University of Newcastle from 2006 to 2007, Sydney University in 2010 and 2011 and Macquarie from 2012 to 2013.

ICAC found that Roberts "caused, or attempted to cause" the payment of false invoices to Management and Professional Services Pty Ltd: An IT consultancy owned by Christopher Killalea, a former friend of Roberts.

Killalea also engaged in corrupt conduct, ICAC found.

"The money derived from the false invoices was deposited into bank accounts controlled by MAPS or Mr Roberts," ICAC's report states.

"Mr Roberts and Mr Killalea also attempted to cover-up the false invoices at Macquarie University by submitting a false licensing agreement and also concocting emails to give the impression that MAPS had performed work for the university."

In addition, the organisation said that a third party, Emiel Temmerman, had engaged in corrupt conduct by agreeing to send a fake invoice for iPath to Macquarie Uni, "knowing that the work described in the invoice had not been done, and knowing that Mr Roberts would exercise his public official functions to dishonestly arrange payment of the invoice."

The investigation came about after Killalea made a complaint in late 2013. Killalea indicated he was concerned Roberts had issued false invoices while employed at Sydney Uni and Macquarie Uni.

"During the course of the investigation, the Commission obtained evidence that suggested Mr Roberts had ... certified the payment of false invoices at the University of Newcastle (in addition to the University of Sydney and Macquarie University, which were the subject of Mr Killalea’s initial complaint)," ICAC's report states.

"The Commission also obtained evidence suggesting that Mr Killalea had been involved in the issuing of false invoices and that another person, Emiel Temmerman, had been involved in issuing a false invoice to Macquarie University."

ICAC recommended Sydney University take steps to safeguard the "the integrity of vendor banking details when new vendors are created and invoices are processed for payment" and expand measures "to enhance its ability to detect potential order-splitting".

Read more: ICAC helps agencies minimise corruption risk

The three universities embroiled in the scandal should improve their employment screening processes, ICAC's report stated.

"Macquarie University will take ICAC's recommendations under consideration," a spokesperson for the university said.

"As part of recruitment, the university carries out appropriate employment checks for new employees," a spokesperson for the University of Newcastle said.

"We welcome the recommendation from the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and we continue to review our recruitment procedures."

Sydney University has been approached for comment.

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Tags Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)corruptionICAC

More about ICACIndependent Commission Against CorruptionMacquarie UniversityRobertsUniversity of NewcastleUniversity of Sydney

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