Land and Property Management Authority – alleged corrupt conduct concerning matters arising from Currawong property purchase (Operation Napier)

Year: 2011 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated allegations that Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA) chief executive officer Warwick Watkins committed the NSW Government to the purchase of property at Currawong, Pittwater, knowing that he did not have the requisite authority to do so, and that the Hon Anthony Kelly, the then minister for lands, sought to authorise the purchase although he knew he was not authorised to do so.

The Commission also examined an allegation that Mr Kelly backdated to 28 February 2011 a letter to Mr Watkins, knowing that it would be used by Mr Watkins to falsely represent that he had written authority of Mr Kelly as of that date to purchase the Currawong property. It is also alleged that Mr Watkins and the LPMA chief financial officer Robert Costello, knowing that the letter dated 28 February 2011 was backdated, used the letter to represent falsely that Mr Watkins had written authority of Mr Kelly as of that date to purchase the property.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 12 December 2011, the Commission made corrupt conduct findings against Mr Watkins, Mr Kelly and Mr Costello. The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mr Watkins, Mr Kelly and Mr Costello for various criminal offences.


Findings of corrupt conduct

The Commission has found that Mr Watkins engaged in corrupt conduct by using the letter to induce others to accept it as genuine in relation to: his statement to, and interview with, an Internal Audit Bureau (IAB) investigator of 22 March and 24 March 2011 respectively; in an attachment to an email to the then director general (DG) of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC); and in letters to the current DG of DPC dated 13 and 20 April 2011 (including the enclosures to those letters).

Mr Kelly engaged in corrupt conduct by: making the backdated letter with the intention that another would use it to induce a third party to accept is as genuine and thereby influence the exercise of a public duty; and using the backdated letter in his interview with the IAB investigator on 24 March 2011.

Mr Costello engaged in corrupt conduct by using the backdated letter in the attachment to an email he sent to the then DG of DPC on 25 March 2011.

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 Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mr Watkins for five offences of using a false document pursuant to section 254 of the Crimes Act 1900 in relation to his use of the backdated letter; an offence under section 80(c) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 of making wilfully false statements to the Commission or attempting to mislead the Commission; and for two offences of making a publication in contravention of a direction given under section 112 of the ICAC Act in relation to disclosing to his chief of staff that he had given evidence at the Commission on 3 June 2011 and disclosing to his chief of staff that he had given evidence at the Commission concerning the backdated letter. Mr Watkins was prosecuted for 2 counts of using a false document pursuant to section 254 of the Crimes Act, and 2 counts of attempting to mislead the Commission, contrary to section 80 of the ICAC Act. The charges were heard at the Downing Centre Local Court between 2 and 5 December 2013. At the commencement of the hearing, Mr Watkins pleaded guilty to the 2 charges of attempting to mislead the Commission. Mr Watkins was acquitted of the remaining charges of using a false document. On 19 December 2013, Mr Watkins was sentenced in relation to the 2 charges of attempting to mislead the Commission. He was placed on concurrent good behaviour bonds for 12 months pursuant to section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mr Kelly for: an offence under section 253 of the Crimes Act in relation to signing and backdating the letter; an offence under section 254 of the Crimes Act in relation to referring to and relying on the backdated letter in an interview with the IAB on 24 March 2011; and an offence of misconduct in public office in relation to the making and use of the backdated letter. The DPP's advice that there is insufficient evidence to support criminal charges against Mr Kelly has been accepted by the Commission. The Commission entered in to further correspondence with the DPP following receipt of an initial advice in May, however, in July the Commission accepted the DPP's decision not to proceed with criminal charges.

The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mr Costello for an offence under section 254 of the Crimes Act in relation to the use of the backdated letter in an attachment to an email sent to the then director general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on 25 March 2011. The DPP's advice not to proceed has been accepted by the Commission.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

As Mr Kelly is no longer a member of parliament, and neither Mr Watkins nor Mr Costello are now employed by the NSW Government service, it is not necessary to make any recommendation in relation to disciplinary action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission has not made any corruption prevention recommendations in relation to this matter. The decision by the new government to redeploy the key functions of the LPMA by placing the Crown Lands Division under the Department of Trade and Investment, and the Office of Strategic Lands under the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, has addressed the most significant corruption prevention risks identified during this investigation.


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.

 

Filename File Size KB Date pp. Time
27-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00001_-_00049_from_10.05am_to_12.59pm.pdf 149 27/06/11 00001_-_00049 10.05am_to_12.59pm
27-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00050_-_00086_from_2.08pm_to_3.59pm.pdf 104 27/06/11 00050_-_00086 2.08pm_to_3.59pm
28-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00087-00145_from_10.05am_to_1.03pm.pdf 159 28/06/11 00087-00145 10.05am_to_1.03pm
28-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00146_-_00186_from_2.05pm_to_4.01pm.pdf 107 28/06/11 00146_-_00186 2.05pm_to_4.01pm
29-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00187_-_00242_from_10.10am_to_12.55pm.pdf 156 29/06/11 00187_-_00242 10.10am_to_12.55pm
29-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00243-00284_from_2.10pm_to_4.02pm.pdf 119 29/06/11 00243-00284 2.10pm_to_4.02pm
30-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00285-00333_from_10.05am_to_1.00pm.pdf 140 30/06/11 00285-00333 10.05am_to_1.00pm
30-6-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00334-00370_from_2.08pm_to_4.01pm.pdf 106 30/06/11 00334-00370 2.08pm_to_4.01pm
01-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00371-00415_from_10.05am_to_12.58pm.pdf 132 01/07/11 00371-00415 10.05am_to_12.58pm
01-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00416-00456_from_2.05pm_to_4.05pm.pdf 116 01/07/11 00416-00456 2.05pm_to_4.05pm
04-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00457-_00502_from_10.05am_to_12.47pm.pdf 127 04/07/11 00457-_00502 10.05am_to_12.47pm
04-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00503-_00553_from_2.25pm_to_5.11pm.pdf 138 04/07/11 00503-_00553 2.25pm_to_5.11pm
05-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00554-_00601_from_10.10am_to_12.58pm.pdf 137 05/07/11 00554-_00601 10.10am_to_12.58pm
05-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00602-00647_from_1.50pm_to_4.23pm.pdf 129 05/07/11 00602-00647 1.50pm_to_4.23pm
06-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00648-00708_from_10.05am_to_1.00pm.pdf 162 06/07/11 00648-00708 10.05am_to_1.00pm
06-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00709-_00762_from_1.47pm_to_4.27pm.pdf 148 06/07/11 00709-_00762 1.47pm_to_4.27pm
07-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00763-00811_from_10.05am_to_1.00pm.pdf 132 07/07/11 00763-00811 10.05am_to_1.00pm
07-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00812-_00863_from_1.50pm_to_4.35pm.pdf 148 07/07/11 00812-_00863 1.50pm_to_4.35pm
08-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00864-00913_from_10.05am_to_12.58pm.pdf 143 08/07/11 00864-00913 10.05am_to_12.58pm
08-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00914-00963_from_1.50pm_to_4.19pm.pdf 138 08/07/11 00914-00963 1.50pm_to_4.19pm
11-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._00964-01020_from_10.10am_to_12.59pm.pdf 157 11/07/11 00964-01020 10.10am_to_12.59pm
11-7-2011_Operation_Napier_transcript_pp._01021-01071_from_1.50pm_to_4.07pm.pdf 138 11/07/11 01021-01071 1.50pm_to_4.07pm
Exhibits Public notices