Frequently asked questions
About the ICAC
Does the ICAC investigate every report of suspected corruption that it receives?
Every report the ICAC receives is carefully assessed, but investigation is only one of the options open to the ICAC. Reports may also be referred back to the relevant public authority for action, referred to other agencies if they are outside the ICAC's jurisdiction or used as the basis for corruption prevention work with the relevant public authority.
Can the ICAC deal with allegations of corruption against Members of the NSW Parliament and NSW judges and magistrates?
Yes, because Members of Parliament, magistrates and holders of judicial office are public officials within the meaning of the ICAC Act.
Can the ICAC deal with allegations of corruption in NSW local government?
Yes, because local government authorities are included within the definition of a "public authority" in the ICAC Act. The ICAC can investigate conduct involving councillors as well as employees of local government.
Can the ICAC deal with allegations of corruption in the NSW Police?
The Police Integrity Commission has responsibility for investigating allegations of police corruption in NSW. However, the ICAC has jurisdiction to investigate corruption by police officers where it also involves other public officials who are not police or administrative staff employed by the NSW Police.
Can the ICAC deal with allegations of corruption in the private sector?
No, not unless public officials and/or public authorities are involved or affected. In some circumstances, private contractors and consultants can be considered to be public officials if they are exercising public official functions.
Does the ICAC have the power to prosecute people?
No, however the ICAC can make recommendations that the Director of Public Prosecutions give consideration to prosecuting individuals for criminal offences.
Can a private citizen engage in corrupt conduct?
A private citizen can undertake corrupt conduct as defined in the ICAC Act by committing wrongdoing that sets out to affect or influence a NSW public official in the carriage of their duties. A private citizen can also engage in corrupt conduct by colluding with a public official in undertaking corrupt conduct.
How does someone come to be found to be corrupt?
The ICAC may, based on evidence available to it, make a finding that an individual is corrupt. In all cases where a public inquiry has been held or where a matter has been referred for investigation to the ICAC by both Houses of the NSW Parliament, the ICAC's findings are published in investigations reports that are provided to the NSW Parliament.
Investigation reports are available on this website for a period of ten years after they are made public.
What sort of conduct is corrupt?
For the purposes of the ICAC's work, corrupt conduct is defined in sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (ICAC Act). Generally corruption is intentional wrongdoing either by a NSW public official or which affects an NSW public official that is serious enough to be a criminal offence or warrant disciplinary action or, for members of the NSW Parliament and local government councillors, amount to a substantial breach of an applicable code of conduct.
The purpose of corrupt conduct is generally to obtain some benefit or advantage that otherwise may not be afforded. In a nutshell it is exploiting official office or entrusted power for personal gain.
Some easily recognised examples include bribery, extortion, theft and fraud, abuse of discretion, nepotism and favouritism.
Can I be sued for defamation as a result of lodging a complaint with the ICAC?
No. There are protections against actions for defamation afforded to those who provide the ICAC with information.
Can I be victimised as a result of lodging a complaint with the ICAC?
If you are a current NSW public official or an independent contractor to a NSW public authority and you make a complaint to the ICAC as a public interest disclosure, your matter falls within the Public Interest Disclosure Act and it is an offence for reprisal action to be taken against you for doing so. This includes such things as harassment, discrimination and dismissal from employment.
It is an offence against the ICAC Act for anyone to victimise a member of the public for assisting the Commission - see section 93 of the ICAC Act.
If you consider you have been victimised as a result of lodging a complaint you should let the ICAC know immediately.
Can I report a corruption matter anonymously?
Yes. However, this can affect our ability to deal with the information. For example, we will not be able to contact you to verify or check any facts. Nor will we be able to contact you to advise you of what action the ICAC may be taking.
Can I tell others that I have reported a matter to the ICAC?
The ICAC cannot prevent you from reporting matters to others, however this is not advisable. It may affect the ability of the ICAC to take any necessary steps.
Can someone gain access to material I have provided to the ICAC under freedom of information legislation?
No. The ICAC's complaint-handling function is exempt from freedom of information legislation.
Do I need proof?
While proof is not required the ICAC is unlikely to take any action if your allegations are based on speculation. It does assist the Commission if you can provide information to support your allegations. While you are not expected to know the truth of the matter you are reporting, please note that it is an offence to deliberately provide false and misleading information to the ICAC.
How do I report a matter?
The ICAC accepts complaints from the general public and from public officials in the following forms:
- in writing – GPO Box 500, Sydney 2001
- by fax – (02) 9264 5364
- by telephone – (02) 8281 5999 or toll-free 1800 463 909
- TTY – (02) 8281 5773 (for hearing-impaired callers only)
- by email – email@example.com
- by online complaint form
- in person – the ICAC is located at Level 21, 133 Castlereagh St, Sydney. It is advisable to make an appointment with the Assessments duty officer if you wish to lodge your complaint in person.
How will I find out what has happened with my complaint?
You will be notified in writing of the ICAC's decision after the matter has been reported to the Assessment Panel.
What details do I need to make a complaint?
To assess your information fully, you should let us know:
- what happened
- when it occurred
- who was involved (including names and titles of public officials)
- why you consider the conduct corrupt
- whether you have any documents that might support your allegations
- who else you have reported it to and what response have you received, if any.
What is corrupt conduct?
Corrupt conduct is defined in sections 7, 8 and 9 of the ICAC Act. It can generally be understood as the dishonest or partial exercise of NSW public official functions, breach of public trust, misuse of information by a public official or conduct that could adversely affect the exercise of official functions.
What will happen to my matter?
All reports and complaints received that are within the ICAC's jurisdiction are considered by an internal committee made up of senior officers – the Assessment Panel.
This Panel decides on the action the ICAC will take:
- refer the matter to another agency or take no action
- request an investigation and report-back by another agency
- conduct assessment enquiries
- provide corruption prevention analysis and/or advice
- undertake an investigation.
Who can I complain about to the ICAC?
The ICAC is concerned with investigating, exposing and preventing corruption in the NSW public sector. The ICAC does not have jurisdiction over the NSW Police Force, nor over private sector organisations or individuals unless their conduct involves or affects a NSW public official. Nor does it have jurisdiction over entities in other states or at a federal level.
Who can lodge a complaint with the ICAC?
Any member of the public, including public officials, can lodge a complaint but the matter must concern suspected corrupt conduct affecting the NSW public sector. If you are a current NSW public official or an individual contracted to a NSW public authority at the time you report your concerns, you may be entitled to the protections available under the Public Interest Disclosures Act.
Who has a duty to report matters to the ICAC?
Section 11 of the ICAC Act provides that all principal officers of NSW public sector authorities have a duty to report all matters they suspect on reasonable grounds concerns corrupt conduct. This includes General Managers of local councils, Directors General and Chief Executives of government departments, as well as any officer who constitutes a public authority. Others with a duty to report such matters include the NSW Ombudsman, the Police Commissioner and Ministers of the Crown.
For any questions about this reporting duty, please contact the Manager Assessments on (02) 8281 5786.
Will I be given a copy of the information other people involved in the complaint or report give to the ICAC?
No. We can provide you with copies of any material you have sent to us but we do not release information provided by others.
Will I need a lawyer?
You do not need to retain a lawyer to report suspected corrupt conduct to the ICAC.
Will it cost me anything to lodge a complaint?
No, there is no charge for the Commission to receive your information. However, bear in mind that the Commission is not a complaints resolution service and our role is to receive information about suspected corrupt conduct and act accordingly.
Will the ICAC disclose the information I provide to others?
The primary concern of the ICAC is what is in the public interest. If the ICAC decides that the information should be provided to another agency then it will be passed on. Please notify the ICAC if you do not want your details disclosed as the source of the information. While the ICAC will consider your wishes, anonymity cannot be guaranteed.
Am I required to act on corruption prevention advice received if it is sought personally?
The ICAC prevention advice line does not issue directives or require compliance. It is intended as an advisory service to assist public officials to reduce the risk of corruption occurring in their organisations.
Can I obtain corruption prevention advice anonymously?
Yes. The Prevention Advice line enables you to call an experienced ICAC corruption prevention practitioner any day of the week without giving your name or identifying your agency if that is what you prefer.
If I approach the ICAC for corruption prevention advice, do I have to inform my organisation? Can I only seek advice officially?
No. You can seek advice without acting as a representative of the organisation that you work for. You can contact the corruption prevention advice line simply as an individual public sector employee or to discuss a prevention issue perhaps preliminary to taking more formal or official action.
If I ask for corruption prevention advice and confess that I have done something corrupt, will ICAC investigate me?
This will depend on what you have done.
If the organisation receives corruption prevention advice, is it required to accept it and act on it? Should I make a report to ICAC about this if it does not?
The advice of prevention staff is not a directive. Rather it is intended to help you decide on a course of action to reduce the risks of corruption in your own context. The ICAC will only act on information reported if it indicates corrupt conduct.
Can I be investigated if I no longer work for the public sector?
The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988
(the ICAC Act) allows the ICAC to investigate the conduct of public officials even when they are no longer employed in the NSW public sector. However, the conduct under investigation must have occurred whilst the person was a public official.
Can I give my evidence in private?
The ICAC has the power to take evidence from witnesses in private. This is a decision for the presiding Commissioner who must have regard to the public interest.
Could I be arrested and charged?
If a person who has been summoned to appear at an ICAC public inquiry or compulsory examination fails to appear, then the Commissioner may issue a warrant for their arrest. In these circumstances, the person will be arrested and delivered into the custody of the ICAC for the purpose of giving evidence.
At the conclusion of an investigation, if it is appropriate to do so, the ICAC may recommend to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that it consider prosecution action against a person based on the available evidence.
Do I have to co-operate with the ICAC?
The ICAC Act provides the ICAC with significant powers to investigate a matter. It is an offence to fail to provide required records, give untruthful answers to questions asked of you at an interview or ICAC public inquiry or compulsory examination or to hinder an ICAC investigation.
How can I find out whether I am under investigation?
Generally the ICAC will neither confirm nor deny that it is conducting an investigation before a matter is able to be made public. This includes people whose conduct may be under investigation.
If I resign would the ICAC stop investigating me?
The reasons for the ICAC commencing an investigation would not be affected by your decision to resign. There is no legal impediment to the ICAC continuing its investigation.
Should I tell work that I am under investigation?
This will depend on whether the ICAC has placed any restrictions on you divulging the fact that you are under investigation. If you are in any doubt you should contact the ICAC.
Will other people find out that I am being investigated?
While the ICAC takes care to maintain confidentiality, it may be unavoidable that the person whose conduct is under investigation will be identified. This may occur through the process of conducting interviews, the taking of statements, the service of notices and the taking of evidence. The ICAC may also conduct a public inquiry and publish a report on its investigation, in which case details of the investigation will be made public.