• Icon Print

Investigation process

Deciding what action to take

The ICAC assesses all matters it receives to decide what action to take. Depending on the matter, the ICAC may:

  • refer the matter to another agency if the ICAC does not have the authority to deal with it. For example, the ICAC would refer a complaint about corrupt conduct by a NSW police officer to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission

  • take no action because the matter is not corrupt conduct as defined by the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 ("ICAC Act")

  • ask the agency to which the matter relates to investigate the matter and report back to the ICAC. The agency must have the capacity to conduct an investigation and not be compromised by doing so

  • make assessment enquiries, for example, to establish whether the agency involved has already dealt with the matter.  Depending on these enquiries the ICAC may decide to take no further action, refer it to another agency or undertake an investigation

  • give the agency concerned corruption prevention advice if the complaint is about systemic problems rather than corrupt conduct

  • commence an investigation.

Conducting an investigation

The ICAC has considerable discretion in determining the matters it investigates. However, it is required to investigate all matters referred to it by both Houses of the NSW Parliament.

The ICAC has extensive investigative powers to enable it to effectively investigate allegations of corrupt conduct. Decisions as to which investigative techniques are to be used are influenced by factors such as the nature of the conduct being considered, whether it has occurred in the past or is still occurring, whether there are witnesses and/or documents to provide evidentiary support to the allegations, and the seriousness of the conduct.

Conducting a number of interviews, for some allegations, may be all that is required to complete the investigation. More complex matters, however, require the ICAC to use its statutory powers to productively investigate the matter.

The purpose of an ICAC investigation is to determine what has occurred or is occurring and whether the conduct of any person amounts to corrupt conduct as defined in the ICAC Act.

As part of its investigation the ICAC may hold compulsory examinations or public inquiries. All investigations that involve a public inquiry, or are referred to the ICAC by both Houses of Parliament, must be reported to Parliament.

Investigation categories – complex or standard

ICAC investigations are categorised based on their level of complexity, as either a “standard” or “complex” investigation. Standard investigations have a timeframe of 16 months from the date of the Assessment Panel decision. Complex investigations have a time frame of 24 months from the date of the Assessment Panel decision. All full investigations commence as standard investigations.

An investigation may be approved as a complex investigation if there is a detailed Investigation Management Group (IMG) report providing sound justification to categorise the investigation as a complex investigation. The IMG, which comprises the three Commissioners and members of the Senior Executive, overseas all Commission investigations, preparation of investigation reports, preparation of briefs of evidence for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the progress of criminal prosecutions arising from Commission investigations.

In approving the categorisation of an investigation as complex, relevant considerations include:

  • The number of persons of interest/witnesses (public officials/private individuals)

    (including more than one public official, multiple private individuals and organisations such as contractors and multiple witnesses, regional investigation, intrastate or interstate witnesses/organisations, number of compulsory examinations).

  • Time frame of the conduct (limited/extensive)

    (three years or more).            

  • The complexity of the financial investigation (limited/extensive)

    (complex finances – trusts, company accounts, multiple bank accounts for multiple   persons/organisations, money laundering).

  • Volume of evidence (limited/extensive)
    (telecommunication interceptions (a number of lines), multiple search warrants, multiple email accounts, extensive computer forensic and telephone data).

A standard investigation will have “limited” as the majority of responses. Complex investigations will have “extensive” as the majority of responses.

The IMG may approve the extension of the time frame of a standard or complex investigation, where a matter cannot be finalised within the time frame, if there is a detailed IMG report providing sound justification to extend a standard investigation time frame from 16 months (from the date of the Assessment Panel decision) or a complex investigation time frame from 24 months (from the date of the Assessment Panel decision).