Showing posts with label fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fraud. Show all posts

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

How long have charity fraudsters been recruiting 'scammers' using Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government's Jobactive program?


The Guardian, 15 September 2019:

Anonymous, 32, South Australia

My strange experience with a Jobactive provider happened back in November 2015. It was a week of pure, concentrated weirdness.
The provider found me a job with a charity. They handled everything. My case manager even took the picture for the photo ID.
There was a man who handled what limited training there was by phone. The day after, I had a trial shift. I had to collect money door-to-door with no information about what the charity actually did, who ran it or what the money we were raising was for – only that it was for children in the Philippines.
The leaflets they gave us to hand out were about cancer, copied and pasted from Wikipedia, even though the charity was supposedly about education. When I spoke to people I couldn’t even answer basic questions. And people were still generous. A blind man gave me $20. It was absurd and awful.
When I asked my point of contact questions, he grew frustrated and aggressive with me. He told me to look on the website but it was just pictures of kids with vague descriptions; no programs, no initiatives. It’s been taken down since, but the mission statement was just a copy of the tax definition of a charity.
I looked up as much as I could about the company. I found the names associated with it had run similar charities that had been exposed as frauds by the ABC. These names weren’t on the website or any training materials. [This charity] didn’t have anything a normal charity had.
I didn’t know what to do, so I reported this to the ACCC and even made a police report. When I told my caseworker, they tried to make me keep doing the job. They told me they’d had their office look it up and that the charity was properly registered, but anyone can register for a business name. I read charities have a year before they’re audited.
When my questions about how the collected money was spent still weren’t answered, the case manager called my point of contact. That’s when they agreed that something wasn’t right and that I didn’t have to do it any more. They joked nervously about ending up on A Current Affair.
A few weeks later I had another appointment and my case manager casually mentioned that another client was still collecting money for [the charity]. She knew they were shonky and still nothing had been done.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Once again peak scam is here for the summer


Throughout the year there are periods where I receive scam calls up to twice a week.

Sometimes I am warned about my imminent arrest for tax evasion, sometimes I am informed that I have compensation money coming to me from a motor vehicle accident in which I was allegedly involved, but most often I am told by a fake Telstra representative that there is something wrong with my computer [substitute various alternative scenarios here] and that my Internet service will be cancelled unless I power up my PC and follow instructions.

I stopped listening to their spiel years ago and now simply hang up.

However, telephone and email scamming is now ubiquitous and peak scam is on us for another holiday season.......

ACCC ScamWatch, 11 December 2018:

Watch out for holiday season scams

Scamwatch is warning people to be careful about being caught out by holiday season scams.

“Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Here are three common holiday season scams people should look out for:

Online shopping scams: scammers will set up fake online stores or post goods for sale in buy‑swap-sell groups or online classified sites to trick people into buying items that don’t exist. This scam has cost Australians nearly $3 million in 2018, with more than 8,700 reports.

Travel scams: scammers trick people into believing they’ve won a holiday or scored a really good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately the prize or the cheap accommodation are phony. In 2018, nearly $135,000 has been lost to this scam.

Parcel delivery scams: scammers may ask you to print off a label, do a survey, claim a prize, or view the status of your delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. Some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware onto their computer, or give up their personal information. People have lost about $31,000 to these scams in 2018.

“Scamwatch has also seen a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. In November we received 7,500 reports of these scams and $400,000 was reported lost,” Ms Rickard said.

“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam, however a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts.”

“This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email,” Ms Rickard said.

Ms Rickard added that the key to avoiding a scammer’s con these holidays is a healthy dose of scepticism and research.

“We love snagging a great deal online for a loved one’s Christmas present and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many after a long year. But don’t fall for it,” Ms Rickard said.

“Be sceptical about an online store you haven’t used before. Do some research to see if they’re legitimate and don’t be fooled by big discounts. With travel deals, call the accommodation provider directly, for example the cruise line or hotel, to check if the deal is legitimate.”

“If you see a seemingly great deal on an accommodation rental website like Airbnb, make sure you only communicate and pay through the official site to avoid getting stung by a fake listing,” Ms Rickard said.

“We’re all expecting parcels this time of year but be careful about online links and never download attachments. If you’re wondering if a delivery notice is legitimate, check the tracking number at the Australia Post or other delivery company website, or call them directly using a number you find from an online search or the phone book.”

“While with friends and family over the holidays, consider taking the opportunity to spread the warnings about these scams particularly to those loved ones who may be vulnerable.” Ms Rickard said.

Further information about holiday season scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au. People can also follow @scamwatch_gov (link is external) on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to get up-to-date warnings.

The Daily Examiner, 15 December 2018; p.5:

When Jenny Hall had a missed call on her phone and a message claiming to be from Centrelink in relation to an adjustment to some payments, she didn’t give a second thought in calling back.

However Ms Hall was sceptical of the man who answered the phone when she called back and when he called her a “f------ b----” after his legitimacy was questioned, her suspicions were confirmed.

“I rang back and they gave me a number to call and a claim number so I thought it sounded real,” she said.

“I rang the number and some guy answered the phone and at one point we got cut off, so I called back and the same person answered and I thought that was strange.
“He claimed they went through some records and taxes which were linked to Centrelink, which I said was strange because I get an accountant to do my taxes.

“Then he started saying that I needed to get a lawyer because I had a big tax bill. I said wait there and I asked for his name and started asking him some questions.
“I said I wanted to talk to his superior and he said that he was in charge and that’s when I knew he was lying.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website revealed reports of tax scams threatening arrest or jail over unpaid debts have jumped significantly in the past month…..

The Daily Examiner, 15 December 2018; p.13:

A Casino woman has a message for shoppers after being scammed by a market stallholder at the Jacaranda Festival Markets.

Kelly-ann Oosterbeek bought a powdered anti-inflammatory product in Grafton, and paid the $80 by Eftpos.

Mrs Oosterbeek was then told the item would be posted to her.

“If you feel like anything is slightly off with any purchase you are making, walk away,” she warned.

The “supremely weird” transaction process made Mrs Oosterbeek feel nervous.
She was concerned enough to take photos of the stall, and she asked to see the stallholder’s business credentials. She also took photos of the registration, ABN and insurance, and got a signed receipt saying the product would be posted.

“I was standing there with my hubby, four of my six kids and my daughter’s partner – I had so many witnesses,” Mrs Oosterbeek said.

But the product never came.

“I want to warn people of the Northern Rivers because the lady told me she was heading north with her market stall,” Mrs Oosterbeek said.

Trying to give the stallholder the benefit of the doubt, Mrs Oosterbeek waited a few days before contacting her to make sure the product had been posted, but she claimed Mrs Oosterbeek had been given it on the day.

“They wouldn’t budge with their claims, saying I was trying to rip them off and eventually saying my husband had taken the product and not told me,” she said.

“I wasn’t too worried – I’d done everything right as a consumer and I felt really covered – so I took the case to Fair Trading.

“Even with all of my evidence, witness statements, and a signed receipt promising postage of the item there was nothing they could do.”


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Turnbull Government has just placed a multinational corportion with an appalling human rights record at the first contact interface with the National Disability Insurance Scheme


“It has a history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging”  [Senior Appleby compliance officer quoted in The Guardian on the subject of Serco, 7 June 2017]

If the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) didn't have enough internal structural problems to deal with along comes the UK-based multinational Serco Group.

A group implicated in: human rights abuses in prisons and immigration detention centres it has managed; poor to unsafe health service delivery including at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, overcharging for services rendered under government contractsfraudulent record keeping and manipulating results when there was a failure to reach targets; mishandling of radioactive waste and labour rights abuses.

The Guardian, 23 Apri 2018:

Disability rights groups, Labor and the Greens have slammed a decision to hire the multinational outsourcing giant Serco in a key role administering the national disability insurance scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced on Friday afternoon that Serco, a company with a chequered corporate history, would help run its contact centres under a two-year contract.

The decision would put the company at the frontline of the NDIS, interacting frequently with people with disability and service providers, many of whom are still grappling with a vast, complex and sometimes confusing scheme.

 “Sourcing our contact centre services from Serco will give ongoing flexibility, responsiveness and value for money,” the NDIA said in a statement.

But the decision has outraged disability rights campaigners, who say Serco’s poor history abroad and its lack of experience in disability should have precluded it from any role delivering the landmark scheme. 

People with Disability Australia co-chief executive, Matthew Bowden, said he was “gravely concerned” that Serco would, like other third-party providers, fail to uphold the values, objectives and principles underpinning the NDIS.

“We have no details on what expertise Serco have in providing communication services for people with disability, or why the NDIA has decided to outsource such a vital part of its services,” Bowden said.

“The NDIA needs to hire more staff and make their communication avenues with people with disability more transparent. Instead, they are offloading their responsibilities, and requirements, to deliver services to people with disability.”
Paralympian Kurt Fearnley was among those expressing concern at the decision, saying Serco would be “racking their brains on how they can bring lived experience of disabilities into their workplace”.

“The NDIS will be worthless if people with disabilities aren’t at its core!” he tweeted.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

As the federal govenment burns are Turnbull and Co. just tinkering at the edges of banking and finance regulations or are they seriously committed to reform?



Way back in October 2016 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) began an Enforcement Review which examined the adequacy of legislation dealing with corporations, financial services, credit and insurance, with regard to serious contraventions in the financial sector, including fraud and criminal activity.

0n 18 December 2017 ASIC handed its Enforcement Review Report to the Turnbull Government.

It was probably no accident that four days earlier the same government ceased its sustained opposition to a highest level inquiry and created the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. 

With the extent of bank money laundering becoming an issue and the review report on its doorstep there was nowhere else to turn, given the average voter would not have been receptive to the argument that the big banks were historically a protected species because of their generous political donations.

In April 2018 in the midst Royal Commission revelations concerning a host of bank and financial system abuses the Turnbull Government finally released its response to the ASIC review report.

This response "agrees" with or gives "in principle agreement" to all 50 recommendations but has placed 20 recommendations on the backburner.

Knowing that ASIC’s investigative abilities has been crippled by funding/staff cuts, that entities with annual profits in the billions just seem to shrug off large corporate fines, often indemnify executives in relation to individual fines and are able to play the legal system so that executives rarely see the inside of a prison, on 20 April the Turnbull Government via the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services revealed that by legislative amendments it will implement the potential for larger individual and corporate fines and double potential maximum prison sentences:

The Turnbull Government is strengthening criminal and civil penalties for corporate misconduct and boosting the powers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to protect Australian consumers from corporate and financial misconduct.

These stronger new penalties will ensure that those who do the wrong thing will receive appropriate punishment.

These reforms represent the most significant increases to the maximum civil penalties, in some instances, in more than twenty years. They bring Australia's penalties into closer alignment with leading international jurisdictions, and ensure our penalties are a credible deterrent to unacceptable misconduct.

The Government will increase and harmonise penalties for the most serious criminal offences under the Corporations Act to a maximum of:

For individuals: (i) 10 years' imprisonment; and/or (ii) the larger of $945,000 OR three times the benefits;

For corporations: (i) the larger of $9.45 million OR (ii) three times benefits OR 10% of annual turnover.

The Government will expand the range of contraventions subject to civil penalties, and also increase the maximum civil penalty amounts that can be imposed by courts, to the maximum of:

the greater of $1.05 million (for individuals, from $200,000) and $10.5 million (for corporations, from $1 million); or

three times the benefit gained or loss avoided; or

10% of the annual turnover (for corporations).

In addition, ASIC will be able to seek additional remedies to strip wrongdoers of profits illegally obtained, or losses avoided from contraventions resulting in civil penalty proceedings.

ASIC's powers will also be significantly increased through:

expanding their ability to ban individuals from performing any role in a financial services company where they are found to be unfit, improper, or incompetent;

strengthening their power to refuse, revoke or cancel financial services and credit licences where the licensee is not fit or proper; and

boosting ASIC's tools to investigate and prosecute serious offences by harmonising their search warrant powers to provide them with greater flexibility to use seized materials, and granting ASIC access to telecommunications intercept material.

The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring ASIC is armed with greater powers to effectively deter, prosecute, and punish those who do the wrong thing, to improve community confidence and outcomes for consumers and investors in the financial services and corporate sector.

These reforms come on top of strong Government action to reform our financial services sector to better protect Australian consumers over a number of years.
The Government has already provided $127 million in additional funding to ASIC to bolster its investigative and surveillance capabilities; implemented an industry funding model for ASIC to give it secure funding; appointed a new chairman for ASIC, Mr James Shipton, and announced a new second Deputy Commissioner with an enforcement focus, Mr Daniel Crennan QC; established a new standards setting body for financial advisers; and established a new one stop shop for consumer complaints which is free for consumers, binding on financial institutions and can order compensation where appropriate.

Today's reforms to ASIC's powers and penalties follow recommendations made by the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce (The Taskforce). The Taskforce was established in October 2016 to fulfil the Government's commitment to review the adequacy of ASIC's enforcement regime in response to the Murray Financial System Inquiry, and provided its report to Government in December 2017.

The Government has agreed, or agreed in principle, to all 50 of the Taskforce recommendations and will prioritise the implementation of 30 of the recommendations.

The remaining 20 recommendations relate to self-reporting of breaches, industry codes and ASIC's directions powers, which will be considered alongside the final report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

The Government thanks all the members of the Taskforce, including the Panel of Experts, Treasury, ASIC, Attorney-General's Department, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as all stakeholders who participated in the consultation of the various position papers put forward by the Taskforce.

The Government's full response to the Taskforce Report can be found on the Treasury website.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers


On 15 August 2016 four representatives of United Land Councils Ltd & United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd gave evidence before the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 INQUIRY INTO CROWN LAND.

One of the projects put forward to the Inquiry by those representatives was the industrialisation of the Clarence River estuary by way of construction of a mega freight port.

The following tale involves a number of persons or firms associated with the aforementioned  companies and this mega port & rail project, including Nick Petroulias aka Michael Felson aka Nick Peterson.

The Newcastle Herald, 21 October 2017:

HE WAS brash and brilliant. A young lawyer from Melbourne who became a rising star of the public service, hand-picked to serve as assistant tax commissioner by the age of 30.

That was until a spectacular fall from grace left Nick Petroulias jailed for using his plum position to do the very thing he was tasked with stamping out: defrauding the tax office.

Since his release from prison in 2010, Mr Petroulias has kept a low profile, going by a number of aliases including Michael Felson and Nick Petersen.

He described himself as a “disabled pensioner” on bankruptcy forms in 2015, with his debts estimated at an eye-watering $104 million.

But Fairfax Media can reveal that he has been accused of working behind the scenes to dupe a wealthy Chinese property developer into the illegal purchase of $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across Newcastle.

The matter is the subject of a Supreme Court legal battle that veteran lawyers have described as one of the most extraordinary cases they have seen in their careers.

Labelled by a lawyer familiar with the case as a real-life version of “Alice in Wonderland”, its cast of characters includes an international fugitive known as Robbie Rocket, a convicted drug dealer and a dead company director who somehow continued signing agreements a year after he was cremated in a Sydney cemetery.

The existence of an international money laundering syndicate and a karaoke junket intended as a bribery attempt are among the other sensational allegations contained within thousands of pages of evidence that have been tendered to the court.

Collectively, the lands were valued at $12.6 million.

Two Awabakal board members met with Mr Zong. At the negotiating table, they introduced him to Mr Petroulias – an agent for the parties involved – and Knightsbridge North Lawyers, a firm enlisted to broker the deal.

The only catch, Mr Zong was informed, was that the portfolio of land had already been sold to another buyer a year beforehand.

But he was assured that in return for a payment, that purchaser would remove themself from the picture.

By the end of the year, things appeared to be proceeding smoothly. 

Mr Zong had signed sales contracts, begun pursuing the land’s rezoning and outlaid nearly a million dollars – money he believed was a combination of a deposit and a payout for the former buyer.

But then came a shock announcement that threatened to derail the transaction: the state government had launched an investigation into the land council.

The investigation followed complaints about the land council’s governance and finances.

But Mr Zong alleges he was reassured the deal was still on a steady footing. He claims to have been told by Mr Petroulias that “there was no reason arising from the investigation that would compromise the validity of the transaction documents”. 

However, damning findings from the government’s investigator resulted in the land council being placed into administration. Then, the confirmation came: the sale was off.

Mr Zong ordered the immediate repayment of his $1 million, but his demands were refused. His property development companies – Sunshine Property Investment Group and Sunshine Warners Bay –  launched a civil claim for damages and to recoup the losses.

Caught in the legal crossfire was the land council, its law firm Knightsbridge, and the land’s original buyer, a mysterious company registered under the name Gows Heat.

Since it was placed into administration last year, the Awabakal land council has been under the control of Terry Lawler, a prominent Newcastle financier and philanthropist awarded an OAM in January.

Mr Lawler has recruited a high-powered legal team – including top silk Jeremy Kirk SC – to defend the land council and launch a cross-claim.

They have argued that the sales contracts Mr Zong signed were bogus and none of the proceeds found their way into the land council’s coffers.

Read the full article here.

The Newcastle Herald, 15 December 2017:

A wealthy Chinese developer appears set to withdraw a lawsuit against the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council. 

Tony Zong and his Sunshine Property Investment Group had alleged they were conned into a deal to purchase $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across the city.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard the matter – involving disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – was “painfully close” to being resolved. 

It’s understood Awabakal lawyers want the land council’s costs covered as part of the settlement. 

“There doesn’t seem to be terribly much at issue in the Sunshine matter now except for the terms of discontinuance,” Justice Darke said. 

A separate action against Awabakal is also making its way through the courts. 

Knightsbridge North Lawyers has placed a caveat over the old Newcastle Post Office while it pursues the land council for $26,743 in alleged unpaid fees. 

Justice Darke indicated mediation could occur if the matter remained unresolved when the case returns to court in February. 


Monday, 11 December 2017

Adani Group still cannot find financial backers for Galilee Basin mega coal mine


Indian multinational, the family-owned Adani Group, appears to have financed its Queensland mining venture with debt.

The book value of Adani Enterprises' Carmichael mine project was just under US$2.3bn by mid-2017. While latest report shows its debt has risen by almost US$400m to US$3.83bn.

This debt is further complicated by fraud allegations and investigations by the Indian Government.

The Guardian, 7 December 2017:

Adani’s operations in Australia appear to be hanging on by a thread, as activists prove effective at undermining the company’s chances of getting the finance it needs.

China seems to have ruled out funding for the mine, which means it’s not just Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine that is under threat, but also its existing Abbot Point coal terminal, which sits near Bowen, behind the Great Barrier Reef.

The campaign against the mine has been long. Environmentalists first tried to use Australia’s environmental laws to block it from going ahead, and then failing that, focused on pressuring financial institutions, first here, and then around the world.

The news that Beijing has left Adani out to dry comes as on-the-ground protests against construction of the mine pick up. Two Greens MPs, Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker, have been arrested in Queensland for disrupting the company’s activities.

Is China’s move the end of the road for Adani’s mega coalmine in Australia, and will the Adani Group be left with billions of dollars in stranded assets?.........

While threats to reputational damage were not effective against Adani Group, since it is family-owned, the same was not true of Australian banks, which were targeted heavily by activists.
And one by one, each of the big four Australian banks ruled out financing the mine.

The first of the big four banks declared it would not lend to the project two years ago. NAB distanced itself from the mine in September 2015 and ANZ followed suit in December.
Then in April this year Westpac became the third of the big banks to rule out funding the project, drawing criticism from resources minister, Matthew Canavan, who said the bank had a conflict of interest because of its interest in other coal-producing regions, and called for a boycott of the bank.

Undeterred, and in the face of a large campaign by environmental groups, the Commonwealth bank followed suit in August this year.

By then Adani had seen the writing on the wall, and had shifted to seek finance from overseas institutions. It entered negotiations with the state-owned China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), which was thought to raise the potential of subsidised Chinese government loans.

The Australian government, which was seeking to give Adani its own subsidised loan, had supported the company’s efforts in China, according to a freedom of information request by the Australia Institute that reveals “several hundred pages” relating to formal representations to foreign financiers by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade…….

Friday, 10 November 2017

Turnbull Government employment services program a mess


Meanwhile in Australian Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia  Michaelia Cash’s ministerial portfolio…..

The Australian, 31 October 2017:

The Coalition’s flagship $7.3 billion employment services program has been branded a “hopeless mess” with fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed clients finding long-term work, more than a third of job agencies performing so badly they should be disqualified and warnings that fraud may go undetected.

The Australian has uncovered evidence of job agencies inducing or harassing former clients for pay slips from their new employers to claim taxpayer ­bonuses worth thousands of dollars each.

Agencies are handed incentive payments four weeks after a ­client starts a job and again at three months and cumulatively can get up to $13,750 at six months if the client stays in the job.

Fewer than 40 per cent of ­clients remain employed after six months and almost half of the $1.7bn the department spends on the program each year goes on administration.

An analysis by The Australian of the five-year program ­reveals 569 employment services sites out of 1648 around the nation have failed a measure set by the ­Department of Employment that requires their business be reduced or taken away entirely, but only 12 companies have had their share reduced.

The problem is particularly ­severe in Western Australia, the home state of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, where just 14 per cent of the 107 employment services sites met the grade for service standards. Only two sites were operating above the national average but the department has “deferred” any shake-up of the private companies “to give providers an opportunity to ­improve their performance”.

The bonuses under the re­designed “jobactive” program launched by the Coalition are big business and, in many cases, ­securing them is the only revenue keeping the organisations afloat.

The Australian understands there are active moves within the Labor Party to reconsider the ­entire employment services model, and while opposition ­employment services spokesman Ed Husic was tight-lipped on the issue in August, he admonished the system in a speech to service providers.

“We spend roughly $9bn on government jobs programs, the second largest area of procurement outside of defence,” he said.

“We have 730,000 people out of work … 40,000 employment services consultants and only 20 per cent of the people helped by the government’s jobs programs find work for more than 26 weeks.”

The Salvation Army lost more than $1 million a month in the first 18 months of the scheme launched in July 2015 because it was not qualifying for the bonus payments it needed to.

David Thompson, the chief executive of Jobs Australia, the peak organisation for non-profit providers, said the system was a “hopeless mess”, not “hugely ­effective” and had been run to the advantage of the largest companies.

“On average, the staff who work at these places have a high-school-level education and a caseload of 150 jobseekers,” he said. “That’s average. Some of them have 300 people they have to see in a week. They do not have a ­relationship with anyone. It’s cheap.”….

The department declined to release the names of the companies in the “low-impact breaches” because it said it was “concerned that publishing such information may cause commercial harm to the relevant providers”.

Of the 65 providers contracted to deliver employment support services on behalf of the federal government, the Department of Employment has classified more than 43 per cent of having a risk rating of “extreme or high”.

Of this number, more than half were rated extreme or high due to concerns about their ongoing financial viability, more than one-third due to overall service standards, 28 per cent were deemed compliance risks and ­almost 4 per cent were categorised as being at risk of fraud.

Friday, 13 October 2017

File this one under 'Who's guarding the guards?'


The politicians forming Australian state and federal governments assure us they are upright, ethical people with histories as pure as the driven snow. They tell us their advisors are trustworthy beyond doubt and their senior public service appointees & finance/security consultants ditto. While their big business mates like Gina, Twiggy and Co are genuinely true blue and philanthropic.

Yet, as step by step these same politicians lead us towards authoritarian governance and Big Brother mass surveillance, their feet of clay can’t help but show.

North Coast Voices readers may remember that SMEC Holdings Limited (now SMEC and Surbana Juronghas been a favourite of Malcolm Turnbull's since he was the Minister for the Environment and Water Resouces in the Howard Government ministry.

This company provided an error-ridden desktop study for Turnbull supporting damming and diverting water from NSW North Coast river systems, with a preference for visiting this environmental vandalism on the Clarence River system.

It is now allegedly a corrupt multinational corpration.

The Age, 4 October 2017:

An arm of the company tasked with advising the Turnbull government on its signature infrastructure project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, has been banned by the World Bank for alleged bribery and corruption, prompting further calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog……

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses for a photo during his announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Engineering company SMEC had five of its subsidiaries banned by the World Bank last week after an investigation into "inappropriate payments" linked to projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

SMEC was chosen to undertake the $29 million feasibility study back in May and the work is due to be finished by the end of the year. The firm was selected by the state and federal government-owned Snowy Hydro corporation, which runs the current power plant.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the details of some of the allegations around improper payments involving SMEC, including allegedly corrupt dealings between the firm and Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister in 2009.

Those dealings and others are still under investigation by the federal police.

This is one wealthy individual audited by the Australian Taxation Office - venture capitalist and independent consultant to business & government for over twelve years, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castagna.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017:

Anthony Castagna's company helps protect the cyber secrets and detect financial crimes within the world's most powerful institutions, including the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, US Homeland Security, the Australian defence force, ASIC, even the Office of the President of the US.

Now the Sydney-based co-founder and chairman of Nuix, majority owned by Macquarie Bank, faces a potential 20-year jail term after being charged with tax evasion and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Dr Castagna, 70, has been the target of two of Nuix's major clients: the Australian Federal police and the Australian Tax Office through Project Wickenby, their long-running tax probe.

The charges relate to payments from Macquarie Bank which were allegedly channelled into offshore companies controlled by his cousin Robert Agius, who was sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 years and 8 months' jail in 2012 for operating unrelated tax avoidance schemes via his Vanuatu-based accountancy firm.

In addition to Dr Castagna's criminal charges, the ATO is pursuing him for unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of $10 million.

For decades, the tech guru has been a rainmaker for Macquarie Bank. The bank has ploughed millions of dollars into his cyber security and forensic services company Nuix. A totally owned Macquarie Group subsidiary owns more than 70 per cent of Nuix and over the last year Macquarie advisors have been talking up a billion-dollar float of Nuix on the Australian stock exchange....

Dr Castagna, who denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending the charges....