Monday, May 2, 2016

Tax office tackles misconduct as fraud hits public service

The Australian Tax Office dealt with almost 300 allegations of fraud, serious misconduct or criminal activity by staff last financial year.

According to documents released under freedom of information laws, a number of staff were fired, resigned or punished after they breached the Australian public service code of conduct.
Personal or family financial problems were the most commonly cited motivation for the tax office fraud.
Personal or family financial problems were the most commonly cited motivation for the tax office fraud.  
The most common allegation was accessing information without authorisation or misusing Commonwealth resources. Staff were also accused of conflicts of interest, abuse of positions, and corruption, although these were not substantiated.

Only 17 of the 295 allegations were confirmed by the tax office, with seven staff, from junior APS4 positions to senior executives, disciplined. Two were fired, two resigned and another three faced salary cuts and reprimands.

The disclosure is a snapshot of fraud in government departments, with the Australian Institute of Criminology reporting up to half a billion dollars were stolen in recent years.

The institute found most instances of fraud involved staff obtaining cash without permission or misusing Commonwealth credit cards.

Personal or family financial problems were the most commonly cited motivation for fraud, along with greed. Other motivations included a belief that the breaches were common practice, a desire to avoid staff cuts, or an ambition to have material to protect their position.

The report found public servants with more than four years' experience and a low security clearance were the most likely to commit occupational fraud.

Last year, a Canberra public servant used a Commonwealth credit card to pay for a sky-diving adventure during a fraudulent taxpayer-funded trip to the Gold Coast.

The court heard she had cost taxpayers more than $37,000 through a series of fraudulent credit card transactions, false claims during a short stint at the Department of Families, Housing,

Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, fake personal leave, and deceptively receiving Centrelink payments.

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