Recent changes to legislation by the McGowan Government to enhance the State’s ability to pursue financial crime have helped lead to charges being laid against a senior executive in the Housing Authority today.
In response to the charges being laid, Premier Mark McGowan has ordered an independent review into the Housing Authority, inside the Department of Communities.
While the charges and alleged conduct are extremely disturbing, the State Government is pleased that recent changes to the law are working.
The McGowan Government equipped the Corruption and Crime Commission with unexplained wealth powers in June 2018.
WA Police and the CCC this afternoon announced that properties had been placed under freezing orders, which is the result of the passage of this legislation.
The independent review to be overseen by the Public Sector Commission will not duplicate the work of law enforcement agencies, but is needed to ensure the highest standards of integrity are operating in the State’s public sector.
The review will focus on the governance, legal and administrative arrangements underpinning the Housing Authority and recommend any changes needed to prevent similar conduct reoccurring.
The Authority was absorbed into the Department of Communities on July 1, 2017.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“If proven, what has come out today is absolutely appalling and would be a complete betrayal of every Western Australian.
“The Housing Authority is responsible for helping the most vulnerable people in our community and the public rightly expects it to operate with the highest standards of integrity.
“I commend the Attorney General for strengthening the powers of our investigative bodies to become alert to conduct of this nature and vigorously pursue it.”
As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:
“I am very pleased the CCC is putting their new unexplained wealth functions to good use.
“Unexplained wealth powers under the Criminal Property Confiscation Act 2000 had become all but dormant in Western Australia because of resource intensive operational requirements on the WA Police Force and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“The McGowan Labor Government recognised the CCC as ideally placed, with experienced specialist financial investigators and coercive powers, to share the role.
“The passage of the Corruption Crime and Misconduct and Criminal Property Confiscation Amendment Bill 2017 (WA) in June 2018 granted the CCC the power to initiate and conduct confiscation proceedings relating to unexplained wealth.
“It also allowed the CCC to seek orders from the court freezing assets where there is evidence of unexplained wealth.”