An ex health executive in Victoria illegally claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on things like travel and hospitality, a corruption probe found.
A former regional health executive awarded dodgy contracts and illegally claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses, an investigation by Victoria’s watchdog has found.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) investigation found the former CEO misused their position by exploiting loopholes in the system.
They also inappropriately claiming more than $300,000 in personal expenses including on travel and hospitality, IBAC said.
The investigation found that the former CEO even awarded a contract worth nearly $1 million to a consultancy firm while in a personal relationship with one of its directors.
They also authorised payment of invoices to a company owned by a relative several years after the work was undertaken.
The CEO, who can’t be named for legal reasons, also failed to declare and manage the clear conflicts of interest, the report found.
IBAC also found that the organisation had a culture which discouraged employees from speaking up and the board failed to govern effectively.
Further, IBAC identified issues with the oversight of the health service by the then Department of Health and Human Services, which it said did not take sufficient action despite red flags regarding the conduct of the former CEO.
The watchdog has made recommendations to the health service and the Department of Health to address the vulnerabilities identified in its investigation.
IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich said the behaviour of the CEO resulted in significant costs to the health service.
“Any misuse of public funds impacts communities and damages trust in public institutions, services and government. The public harm is particularly acute in health care where the misuse of funds comes at the expense of delivering vital services affecting people’s quality of life,” Commissioner Redlich said.
“The vulnerabilities highlighted in this investigation are not unique to this particular health service.
“I urge public health services and other public sector agencies, particularly in regional or rural areas and those governed by boards, to consider the corruption issues outlined in the Operation Meroo special report and consider how they can mitigate these risks in their own agencies.”