Australian corruption body investigates $AUS1.7 million alleged fraud at educational institute

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
21 September 2015

An inquiry is taking place in Australia into allegations an IT manager fraudulently obtained more than $AUS1.7 million (£785,000) from an educational body by setting himself up as an official supplier.

The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is investigating allegations made against Ronald Cordoba while he was acting IT manager at the Technical and Further Education South West Sydney Institute (SWSI).

Cordoba is facing allegations he instructed a member of staff to create a new vendor in SWSI’s financial system in January 2014, which had his bank account associated with it.

He then authorised false purchase orders through this vendor, supplied false invoices to SWSI written by himself, falsely certified items were received and dishonestly authorised payment of invoices to his own business.

A hearing on 18 August was told that despite receiving payments of $AUS1.7 million in this way, Cordoba’s company provided only some products to SWSI, which he accepted while giving evidence, but he said he had intended to provide the other products.

Cordoba, who was suspended in August 2014, also told the hearing he intended to return profits of $AUS1.1 million (£508,000) he had made to SWSI.

The ICAC is also investigating allegations that Cordoba secured a payment of $AUS55,000 (£25,411) from an SWSI IT contractor, the selection of whom he was closely involved with, by falsely claiming he had been authorised by SWSI to undertake work on behalf of the contractor. During a hearing on 7 September Cordoba denied he had made this claim.

The inquiry will decide if Cordoba’s conduct was corrupt. The inquiry was adjourned until 6 October for further submissions.

The ICAC also has the power to pass cases to the director of public prosecutions.

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