26 September 2023

CCC finds issues at Department of Communities

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A report detailing serious misconduct at the Department of Communities has been tabled in State Parliament.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) report involves a long-term employee of the Department, Kerry Ravi, and a long-term contractor, Maria Irdi.

The pair ran the Department’s Value for Money Efficiency (VFM) Project over eight years, despite deficiencies in their GST knowledge and experience.

They are alleged to have directed more than $7 million worth of work to their preferred consultants, an accounting firm and a law firm.

The report said this was of benefit to the firms and, more particularly to Mrs Ravi and Ms Irdi’s favoured practitioners within the firms.

It said that while working on the VFM Project, the two women received benefits for themselves provided by the accounting and consulting firm and legal firm, including hospitality at high-end Perth restaurants.

Other benefits in the report include alcohol, flowers, corporate box football and tennis tickets, international basketball game tickets, expensive glassware at Christmas time and spa vouchers. It is alleged none were declared as required.

“While the dollar value of the hospitality was not huge, the conflict in accepting hospitality and not declaring it was evident,” the CCC said.

“In the Commission’s opinion, Mrs Ravi engaged in serious misconduct over a number of years, using her position and control over consulting work to corruptly procure benefits for herself and a job for a family member,” the report said.

“She approved payments to Ms Irdi for periods of time when she did not work.”

The Commission was unable to form an opinion of serious misconduct in relation to Ms Irdi’s conduct because she was not technically a public officer, although she worked in the Department from 2012 to 2020.

She was engaged via consulting and labour hire firms.

The Commission recommended its jurisdiction be expanded over people who work within the public sector as contractors but perform work ordinarily done by employees.

The Department of Communities informed the Commission it had made changes to its operations to reduce the risks identified by the investigation.

Both the accounting firm and law firm conducted investigations in relation to the events mentioned in the Commission’s report with each resulting in some personnel ceasing work.

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