University IT management – allegations concerning former IT manager (Operation Misto)

Year: 2015 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated allegations that Brett Roberts corruptly obtained benefits by issuing false invoices to the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University, when he held information technology (IT) management positions at each of the universities between 2005 and 2013.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 25 June 2015, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Mr Roberts, Christopher Killalea and Emiel Temmerman. The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Roberts and Mr Killalea for various offences.

The ICAC also makes two corruption prevention recommendations to the University of Sydney and one recommendation to all of the universities to help prevent the recurrence of the conduct exposed in this investigation in the future.


Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC found that Brett Roberts engaged in corrupt conduct through dishonestly exercising his public official functions by:

  • in November 2006, authorising the payment by the University of Newcastle of three Management and Professional Services Pty Ltd (MAPS) invoices totalling $27,750 for work he knew not to have been done, in order to obtain a financial benefit
  • in December 2010, by certifying the payment by the University of Sydney of nine invoices totalling $43,065, which he knew to be false, in order to obtain a financial benefit
  • in December 2012, raising and signing a recommendation-for-purchase form for the purpose of authorising a MAPS invoice for $32,450, paid by Macquarie University into a MAPS bank account, knowing that MAPS had not done any work for the university and that the invoice was false, in order to obtain a financial benefit
  • in January 2013, by raising and signing a recommendation for the purpose of authorising payment by Macquarie University of an invoice for $10,450 submitted by iPath Pty Ltd, knowing that iPath Pty Ltd had not conducted the work described in the invoice, in order to obtain a financial benefit
  • in May 2013, by submitting three false MAPS invoices, each for $32,450, to Macquarie University, in an attempt to obtain a financial benefit
  • between May and June 2013, by creating and signing a false licensing agreement and creating false emails to falsely represent that MAPS had done work for Macquarie University.

Christopher Killalea engaged in corrupt conduct by adversely affecting the honest exercise of Mr Roberts' public official functions through:

  • in November 2006, collaborating with Mr Roberts to issue three MAPS invoices to the University of Newcastle, totalling $27,750, for work Mr Killalea knew had not been done and that would be dishonestly authorised for payment by Mr Roberts, in order to obtain a financial benefit
  • in November 2012, collaborating with Mr Roberts to create a false MAPS invoice to be paid by Macquarie University for $32,450, for work Mr Killalea knew had not been done, knowing that Mr Roberts would use his position at Macquarie University to dishonestly authorise payment of that amount
  • in December 2012, jointly with Mr Roberts, sending a MAPS invoice to iPath Pty Ltd for $10,450 for work he knew had not been performed by MAPS, knowing that the invoice would be used by iPath Pty Ltd to obtain $10,450 from Macquarie University to which it was not entitled, and that Mr Roberts would use his position at Macquarie University to dishonestly authorise payment of that amount
  • in May and June 2013, collaborating with Mr Roberts to create and submit a false licensing agreement and false emails to falsely represent that MAPS had done work for Macquarie University, knowing that those documents would be used by Mr Roberts to falsely answer queries made of him by staff members of Macquarie University.

Emiel Temmerman engaged in corrupt conduct in January 2013 by adversely affecting the honest exercise of Mr Roberts' public official functions by agreeing with Mr Roberts to submit an iPath Pty Ltd invoice for $10,450 to Macquarie University, knowing that the work described in the invoice had not been done and knowing that Mr Roberts would exercise his public official functions to dishonestly arrange payment of the invoice.

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 the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Brett Roberts for the criminal offences of:

  • obtaining money by deception from the University of Newcastle for himself and Christopher Killalea, contrary to section 178BA of the Crimes Act 1900 (as it was at the time)
  • using a false instrument, namely his curriculum vitae, to obtain employment at the University of Newcastle, contrary to section 300 of the Crimes Act (as it was at the time)
  • giving false and misleading evidence, contrary to section 87 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, by giving evidence during a compulsory examination that MAPS did work for the University of Newcastle
  • fraud, by dishonestly obtaining $43,065 from the University of Sydney contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • using a false document, namely his curriculum vitae, to obtain employment at the University of Sydney, contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act
  • giving false and misleading evidence, contrary to section 87 of the ICAC Act, by giving evidence during a compulsory examination that MAPS did work for the University of Sydney
  • fraud, by dishonestly obtaining $32,450 from Macquarie University by submitting a false invoice in December 2012, contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • fraud, by dishonestly causing a financial disadvantage of $10,450 to Macquarie University through iPath Pty Ltd, contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • attempted fraud, by dishonestly attempting to obtain $93,750 from Macquarie University by submitting three false invoices, contrary to section 192E and section 344A of the Crimes Act
  • using  false documents, namely a false licensing agreement and concocted emails, to influence the exercise of a public duty by staff members at Macquarie University, contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act
  • using a false document, namely his curriculum vitae, to obtain employment at Macquarie University, and thereby obtain a financial advantage contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act
  • giving false and misleading evidence, contrary to section 87 of the ICAC Act, by giving evidence during a compulsory examination that MAPS did work for Macquarie University.

The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of Christopher Killalea for the criminal offences of:

  • obtaining money by deception from the University of Newcastle for himself and Mr Roberts, contrary to section 178BA of the Crimes Act (as it was at the time)
  • fraud, by dishonestly causing a financial disadvantage of $32,450 to Macquarie University by collaborating with Mr Roberts with respect to a false invoice that was submitted to the university in December 2012, contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • fraud, by dishonestly causing a financial disadvantage of $10,450 to Macquarie University, through iPath Pty Ltd, contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act
  • using false documents, namely a false licensing agreement and concocted emails, to influence the exercise of a public duty by staff members at Macquarie University, contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act.

A brief of evidence was provided to the DPP on 2 December 2015.

On 2 March 2017, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge Brett Roberts with:

  • 4 counts of dishonestly obtaining a benefit by deception, contrary to section 192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 4 counts of making a false or misleading statement, contrary to section 192G of the Crimes Act
  • 1 count of using a false document to influence the exercise of a public duty, contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act
  • 3 counts of giving false or misleading evidence at a public inquiry before the Commission, contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act.

On 17 March 2017, Mr Roberts was served with court attendance notices for these offences. The charges were listed for mention at the Downing Centre Local Court on 9 May 2017.

At the Local Court mention on 9 May 2017, the Court ordered that a brief of evidence was to be served by 20 June 2017 and adjourned the matter to 13 July 2017 for a further mention. The Court also imposed bail conditions on Mr Roberts, requiring him to reside at an identified address and prohibiting any contact directly or indirectly with any prosecution witnesses, except through his legal representative.

The matter was mentioned on 10 August 2017. It was adjourned for one week for further discussions between the parties. On 17 August 2017, Mr Roberts entered pleas of guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception, with a further three offences taken into account on sentencing. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of giving false or misleading evidence before the Commission, with a further offence to be taken into account on sentencing. The matter was listed for sentence before the Downing Centre Local Court on 20 October 2017. On that date, the matter was adjourned to 21 December 2017. On 21 December 2017, the matter was further adjourned to 12 April 2018.  On 12 April 2018, sentence was further adjourned to 25 July 2018.

Sentencing was further adjourned to 31 July 2018, on which date Mr Roberts was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 months for the section 192E Crimes Act offences, and 17 months imprisonment with a non-parole of period of 12 months for the section 87 ICAC Act offences. Mr Roberts filed an appeal against severity. The appeal is listed for 24 September 2018.

On 2 March 2017, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge Christopher Killalea with:

  • 3 counts of dishonestly obtaining a benefit by deception, contrary to section 192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 count of using a false document to influence the exercise of a public duty, contrary to section 254 of the Crimes Act.

On 28 March 2017, Mr Killalea was served with court attendance notices for these offences. The charges were listed for mention at the Downing Centre Local Court on 9 May 2017.

At the Local Court mention on 9 May 2017, the Court ordered that a brief of evidence was to be served by 20 June 2017 and adjourned the matter to 13 July 2017 for a further mention. The Court also imposed bail conditions on Mr Killalea, requiring him to reside at an identified address and prohibiting any contact directly or indirectly with any prosecution witnesses, except through his legal representative.

The matter was mentioned on 10 August 2017. It was adjourned for one week for further discussions between the parties. On 17 August 2017, Mr Killalea entered a plea of not guilty. The matter was listed for a summary hearing at the Downing Centre Local Court from 6 November 2017 for four days.

On 6 November 2017, Mr Killalea entered pleas of guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception, with a further offence to be taken into account on sentence. A further charge of using a false document to influence the exercise of public duty was withdrawn. The matter was adjourned for sentence to 20 December 2017. On 20 December 2017, the matter was adjourned to 12 April 2018 for sentence. On 12 April 2018, sentence was further adjourned to 25 July 2018.

Sentencing was further adjourned to 31 July 2018, on which date Mr Killalea was sentenced to a good behaviour bond for five years and fined a total of $4,500. Mr Killalea appealed against severity of sentence. The appeal was dismissed on 29 October 2018.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

Brett Roberts' employment was terminated on 13 December 2013 by Macquarie University at the conclusion of its formal internal investigation into Mr Roberts' conduct. The ICAC, therefore, makes no recommendation in relation to the consideration of disciplinary or dismissal action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission has made three corruption prevention recommendations as follows:

Recommendation 1

That the University of Sydney implements measures to safeguard the integrity of vendor banking details when new vendors are created and invoices are processed for payment.

Recommendation 2

That the University of Sydney expands its measures to enhance its ability to detect potential order-splitting.

Recommendation 3

That the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University ensure that employment screening checks are performed on preferred applicants in line with the Australian Standard on Employment Screening (AS 4811-2006).

Response to ICAC recommendations

The action plans and reports posted below have been provided by the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Their publication here is to show the status of the responses. It does not constitute approval or endorsement by the Commission.

Further reports will not be requested from Sydney University as it has completed implementation of all recommendations. This progress report serves as a final report.

Further reports will not be requested from Macquarie University as it has completed implementation of all recommendations. This action plan serves as a final report.


Media Releases
Witness
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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