Sydney Ferries - misuse of corporate credit cards (Operation Argyle)

Year: 2009 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated allegations that former Sydney Ferries Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Smith, engaged in corrupt conduct by misusing the Corporation’s financial resources.

In its report on this investigation, made public on 4 November 2009, the ICAC made findings of corrupt conduct against Mr Smith. The ICAC stated its opinion that consideration be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Smith and of Vincenzo Rossello, a former Sydney Ferries Chief Financial Officer, for specified offences. Four corruption prevention recommendations were made to Sydney Ferries.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC has made corrupt conduct findings against former Sydney Ferries Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Smith.

Recommendations for prosecutions

The Commission must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether any prosecution should be commenced. The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions. The Commission provides information on this website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP. Accordingly, the Commission does not directly notify persons affected of advice received from the DPP or the progress of their matters generally.

The ICAC is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of Geoffrey Smith for offences under the State Owned Corporations Act 1989 and misconduct in public office.

The ICAC is also of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of former Sydney Ferries Chief Financial Officer Vincenzo Rossello for an offence under the ICAC Act of giving false or misleading evidence.

Status of prosecution outcomes

Geoffrey Smith

Being prosecuted for one count of Director defrauding a body corporate contrary to section 176A of the Crimes Act 1900, one count of Misconduct in public office and one count of knowingly making a false statement to a voting shareholder contrary to Clause 11(2)(a) of Schedule 10, Part 1 State Owned Corporations Act 1989. On 16 August 2013, Mr Smith was committed for trial.

The trial was set down to commence in the Sydney District Court on 26 May 2014. On 12 May 2014, Mr Smith pleaded guilty to one offence contrary to section 176A of the Crimes Act.  The offence under the State Owned Corporations Act 1989 was taken into account on sentence. Mr Smith was sentenced on 25 August 2014 to a period of imprisonment of 3 years, 4 months and 24 days with a non-parole period of 18 months.

Vincenzo Rossello

Prosecuted for one count of making a false statement to an officer of the Commission contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act, and one count of giving false evidence at a public inquiry contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act. Both charges were dismissed.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

There are no recommendations for disciplinary action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

Four corruption prevention recommendations have been made to Sydney Ferries.


RECOMMENDATION 1

That Sydney Ferries' annual reporting requirements in relation to credit card use be based on an actual certification of compliance with the Treasurer's Directions.

RECOMMENDATION 2

That for the purpose of internal audit responsibilities, the position of Audit Assurance Manager have an additional reporting line to Sydney Ferries' Audit Committee and/or the Board.

RECOMMENDATION 3

That the Audit Assurance Manager be appointed and trained as a nominated protected disclosures officer.

RECOMMENDATION 4

That Sydney Ferries amend its code of conduct and protected disclosures procedures so that staff can and should report suspected misconduct to members of the Audit Committee.


Implementation plans

The implementation plan posted below has been provided by Sydney Ferries in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plans by the Commission.

Sydney Ferries - Implementation Plan


Media Releases Witness

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Download the Witness List (PDF)

Transcripts

View all transcripts associated with this investigation. The Commission makes every effort to post the daily transcripts of its public inquiries on its website by 8:00 pm each day when possible. If the Commission sits later than 4:00 pm, the daily transcripts, particularly the afternoon session, may not be available until the next working day.

 

Exhibits Public notices

MEDIA ALERT: Public inquiry into allegations concerning political donations starts Monday

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MEDIA ALERT: ICAC public inquiry into lobbying starts Monday

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Public inquiry into allegations concerning political donations

The ICAC will hold a public inquiry starting Monday 26 August 2019 as part of an investigation it is conducting into allegations concerning political donations, the NSW Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), members of Chinese Friends of Labor and others.

MEDIA ALERT: Operation Ember public inquiry continues Thursday 1 August

The ICAC's Operation Ember public inquiry will continue this Thursday, 1 August 2019, from 9:30 am.

New ICAC public inquiry into lobbying to start 5 August

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MEDIA ALERT: ICAC Operation Skyline public inquiry to resume Wednesday 17 July 2019

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MEDIA ALERT: Operation Ember public inquiry continues Friday 21 June

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Ember public inquiry will continue on Friday 21 June 2019 from 9:00 am.

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MEDIA ALERT: ICAC public inquiry into allegations concerning RMS employees’ awarding of contracts starts Monday

The ICAC public inquiry into allegations concerning two Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) employees and how they exercised their official functions when awarding contracts (Operation Ember) will start next Monday, 20 May 2019 at 10:00 am.

MEDIA ALERT: ICAC Operation Skyline public inquiry to resume from Monday 6 May 2019

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Skyline public inquiry into allegations concerning the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council will resume next week from Monday 6 May 2019 at 10:00 am.