A high ranking bureaucrat from Western Australia’s Department of Communities has been charged after allegedly committing the biggest corruption ever seen in the state’s public service.
Assistant director-general of corporate operations Paul Whyte, 56, and a 43-year-old man who is not a public servant and police will not name are accused of stealing more than $2.5 million over two years by raising false invoices for payments to two “shelf” companies.
No services or products were provided, and the men used the money for their own personal purposes, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said.
Mr Dawson would only describe Mr Whyte’s associate as being “in a very strong and close relationship” with him and there was no information to suggest the man was a “contractor per se”.
Corruption and Crime Commission chief executive Ray Warnes said that if proven, “this may be the most serious case of public sector corruption in Australia, indeed certainly Western Australia”.
The men were each charged with two counts of corruption after raids on two Mosman Park properties and department offices today.
The assistant director-general of corporate operations at the Department of Communities and a 43-
Both remain in custody, having had bail bids refused.
They are due to front Perth Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Mr Dawson said a large investigation remained ongoing to account for public monies “over a much longer period of time”.
“I don’t want to suggest or impute that there are other matters that we can prove charges to prosecute,” he said.
Mr Whyte was in charge of audit and integrity at the department until about six months ago when it was added to the workload of director-general Michelle Andrews.
“Our determination is to understand how this happened and to make sure it never happens again,” she said.
Mr Whyte’s salary is in the range of $220,000-$240,000.
WA’s public sector has recently been rocked by other allegations of serious misconduct and corruption.
In March, a CCC report revealed the former state trade commissioner to Japan, Craig Peacock, had committed a $500,000-plus rort, including “double dipping” his allowance and dining with friends at the taxpayers’ expense.
In September, Judith Innes-Rowe, who worked for 23 years at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital as a clinical trials manager, was accused by the CCC of claiming more than $500,000 in overtime payments to which she wasn’t entitled.
Last year, the CCC alleged North Metropolitan Health Service bureaucrats John Fullerton, David Mulligan and Shaun Ensor took gratuities including overseas flights and accommodation from 11 contractors for a decade in exchange for giving them ongoing work.