Gandangara LALC - allegations concerning chief executive officer and board members (Operation Greer)
The ICAC investigated allegations concerning the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council (GLALC) (Operation Greer), including that, between February 2007 and March 2014, GLALC board members partially exercised their official functions by agreeing to employment arrangements with GLALC CEO Mark Johnson under which his company, Waawidji Pty Ltd, derived benefits from the GLALC.
It was also alleged that Mr Johnson improperly exercised his public official functions, by: between March 2011 and April 2013, authorising the transfer of GLALC funds to Gandangara Future Fund Ltd; between 2009 and 2013, authorising the payment of GLALC funds for the benefit of Deerubbin, Walgett and La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Councils, and partly for the benefit of Waawidji Pty Ltd; and between 2010 and 2014, claiming the provision of benefits from GLALC for himself or Waawidji Pty Ltd, including money, to which he knew he was not lawfully entitled.
In its report on the investigation, made public on 23 February 2017, the Commission makes findings of serious corrupt conduct against Mr Johnson. There are no findings of serious corrupt conduct made against members of the GLALC board.
Findings of corrupt conduct
The ICAC found that Mark Johnson engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:
- from about June 2010, continuing to act as chief executive officer (CEO) of Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council (GLALC) despite knowing that his company, Waawidji Pty Ltd, was receiving benefits from GLALC by way of deposits of funds into the Waawidji bank account (which totalled $107,023.28 between June and December 2010) and knowing that, under section 78B(1)(e) of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (the ALR ACT), that he was not entitled to continue to be employed as the CEO of GLALC because he was a person who had an interest in a corporation that received a benefit from GLALC
- on 14 occasions, between 30 June 2011 and 12 November 2012, improperly favouring Gandangara Future Fund (GFF) by authorising the transfer of funds totalling $5,370,000 from the GLALC trust account to GFF knowing that he did so contrary to legal advice he had obtained that any transfer of funds from GLALC to GFF had to be by way of a commercial loan secured by a charge. He authorised 13 of the 14 transfers, totalling $4,970,000, knowing that they did not comply with the GLALC board resolution of 11 July 2011, authorised 12 of the transfers, totalling $4,670,000, knowing that did not comply with the GLALC members’ resolution of 27 July 2011, and authorised three of the transfers, totalling $960,000, despite knowing that his actions contravened the ALR Registrar’s compliance direction of 31 August 2012
- improperly exercising his official functions as GLALC CEO to arrange the payment by GLALC invoices, totalling $70,568.58, to fund Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council’s development for sale of 10 lots at Terrace Falls Road in Hazelbrook, in order to ensure that the lots could be sold so that Waawidji would benefit by receiving $5,500 (inclusive of GST) for each lot sold.
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 not of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Mark Johnson.
Recommendations for disciplinary action
Mark Johnson is no longer employed by Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council. Therefore, the possibility of taking disciplinary action against him or taking action with a view to his dismissal as a public official does not arise.
Recommendations for corruption prevention
The Commission has not made any corruption prevention recommendations in this report. The evidence obtained during the course of this investigation will help to inform the ICAC’s forthcoming report on the governance of Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
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.
Download exhibits associated with this investigation below.