NSW Health and the Department of Family and Community Services - allegations concerning the former CEO of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (Operation Tarlo)

Year: 2018 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated corruption allegations concerning Eman Sharobeem, the former principal officer of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS) and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH).

The investigation primarily concerned allegations that Ms Sharobeem, when service manager or chief executive officer (CEO) of IWHS and the person in day-to-day charge of NESH, misused public funds entrusted to those agencies for the financial benefit of herself and members of her family. Other matters investigated included whether Ms Sharobeem falsely claimed certain academic qualifications and then used them to obtain employment as a part-time commissioner and board member of the Community Relations Commission (CRC) and member of the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) NSW.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 19 September 2018, the Commission makes 24 findings of serious corrupt conduct against Ms Sharobeem.

The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Ms Sharobeem for various offences.

The Commission makes 12 corruption prevention recommendations to the South Western Sydney Local Health District and the Department of Family and Community Services, the two NSW Government agencies that substantially funded, respectively, IWHS and NESH.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The Commission found that Ms Sharobeem engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

1.         between 2009 and 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself by arranging to obtain up to $443,000, through transfers to her bank account, from the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS) by way of reimbursement for the cost of goods and services she had purchased for personal use, knowing that she was not entitled to such reimbursements

2.         between February and June 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself by arranging for the transfer of funds totalling $13,500 from IWHS to Andrew’s Designer Jewellery, knowing that the payments related to the purchase of jewellery for personal use and that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for that purpose

3.         between 2010 and 2014, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself by arranging for the transfer of funds totalling $3,850 from IWHS to a wardrobe supplier, knowing that the payments related to the purchase of wardrobes for personal use and that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for that purpose

4.         in about December 2013, improperly exercising her official functions by submitting an invoice for $210 to IWHS, which she knew to be false, in order to obtain payment from IWHS of $210 for pest control services at her home, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

5.         in about June 2015, improperly exercising her official functions by submitting an invoice for $3,878 to IWHS, which she knew to be false, in order to obtain payment of $3,878 from IWHS for the purchase of a gate at her home, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

6.         in March 2014, improperly exercising her official functions by submitting a receipt for $489 to IWHS, which she knew to be false, in order to obtain payment of $489 from IWHS to reimburse her for payment for a Classic Holiday Club VIP membership pass for herself, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

7.         in June 2015, improperly exercising her official functions by submitting an invoice for $6,900 to IWHS, which she knew to be false, in order to obtain reimbursement of her personal credit card expense of $5,900, and to cover the use of the IWHS credit card to pay $1,000, for the purchase of a massage chair for her personal use, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

8.         between January 2009 and February 2016, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself or members of her family by using the IWHS credit card to pay $35,211.39 for personal goods and services, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

9.         between 2007 and 2016, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself or members of her family by causing payments totalling $31,157.87 to be made to Sydney Water Corporation and the State Debt Recovery Office by direct transfer of IWHS funds for personal expenses, knowing that she was not entitled to use IWHS funds for such a purpose

10.       between May 2014 and March 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to obtain $99,685 through submitting invoices to IWHS, falsely claiming she had worked as a facilitator and causing payment of those invoices to be made to her by IWHS

11.       between May 2014 and March 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to obtain $34,050 for her son, Richard Sharobeem, through submitting invoices to IWHS falsely claiming he had worked as a facilitator and causing payment of those invoices to be made to him by IWHS

12.       between May 2014 and February 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to obtain $7,750 for her son, Charlie Sharobeem, through submitting invoices to IWHS, falsely claiming he had worked as a facilitator and causing payment of those invoices to be made to him by IWHS

13.       between 2011 and 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself by arranging for IWHS to pay $59,558.70 for work on her property at 92 Smart Street, Fairfield, knowing that, as owner of that property, those costs were her responsibility

14.       in 2014, improperly exercising her official functions to benefit herself by falsely stating in an application to the NSW Community Building Partnership that IWHS was the owner of her property at 92 Smart Street, Fairfield, with the intention of obtaining public funds to pay for work on her property

15.       in 2015, improperly exercising her official functions by knowingly falsifying statistics relating to the numbers of attendees for IWHS programs reported in the IWHS 2014–15 annual report, which she submitted to the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), knowing the false statistics would be relied on by NSW Health and the SWSLHD in determining IWHS’s funding

16.       between 2013 and 2015, improperly exercising her official functions by providing false statistics to the Smith Family in order to falsely represent to the Smith Family that IWHS had conducted the Multicultural Parenting Project and the Steps to Employment Project programs in accordance with its contractual obligations to the Smith Family

17.       between January and April 2014, improperly exercising her official functions to transfer a total of $13,500 from the IWHS bank account into her bank account and then arranging for the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH) to reimburse IWHS for that amount

18.       on 16 March 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to transfer $3,000 from the NESH bank account to her own bank account in order to reimburse her for the $3,000 payment she made to Westmead Private Hospital for her son’s medical procedure

19.       in late December 2014, improperly exercising her official functions to apply $18,000 in IWHS funds towards the purchase of a Mercedes car for her husband, Haiman Hammo, and then arranging for NESH to reimburse IWHS for that amount

20.       in early 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to arrange for her son, Richard Sharobeem, to be hired as a paid employee of NESH

21.       for a period of about six months from late December 2014 or early January 2015, improperly exercising her official functions to facilitate the exclusive use, including personal use, of a NESH motor vehicle by her son, Richard Sharobeem

22.       between at least 2006 and 2016, improperly exercising her official functions by falsely representing herself to be a qualified psychologist with a PhD in psychology and providing psychological treatment to IWHS clients and patients referred to her

23.       in March 2011, knowingly submitting false academic qualifications to the Community Relations Commission (CRC) for the purpose of obtaining financial advantage by being appointed to the paid position of part-time commissioner of the CRC

24.       in about December 2012, knowingly submitting false academic qualifications to the Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) NSW for the purpose of obtaining financial advantage by being appointed to the paid position of a board member of the ADB.

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 DPP should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Eman Sharobeem for the criminal offences of:

  • misconduct in public office or fraud contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 and obtaining money by deception (for offences committed before 22 February 2010) under section 178BA of the Crimes Act, in relation to her conduct the subject of serious corrupt conduct findings in chapter 2 of the report
  • giving false or misleading evidence contrary to section 87 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 in relation to her evidence that she did not know how to use the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS) online banking website (chapter 2 in the report)
  • giving false or misleading evidence contrary to section 87 of the ICAC Act in relation to her evidence that she mistakenly used $4,186 of IWHS funds to pay for the supply and installation of an automatic gate at her home (chapter 3 in the report)
  • giving false or misleading evidence contrary to section 87 of the ICAC Act in relation to her evidence that:
  • she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the American University
  • she did not claim to be a psychologist when providing care to Mr X (chapter 10 in the report)
  • misconduct in public office or offences under section 192H and section 254 of the Crimes Act, in relation to her conduct the subject of serious corrupt conduct findings in chapter 3 of the report
  • misconduct in public office or fraud contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act and obtaining money by deception (for offences committed before 22 February 2010) under section 178BA of the Crimes Act, in relation to her conduct the subject of serious corrupt conduct findings in chapter 4 of the report
  • fraud contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act or common law criminal offences of misconduct in public office for the conduct the subject of serious corrupt conduct findings in chapter 5 of the report
  • misconduct in public office, in relation to her arranging for payment by IWHS of $59,558.70 for works to her property at 92 Smart Street, Fairfield, and making a false declaration as to the ownership of IWHS’s premises in the 2014 application to the NSW Community Building Partnership (chapter 6 in the report)
  • misconduct in public office in relation to each of the findings of serious corrupt conduct in chapter 8 of the report
  • fraud contrary to section 192E of the Crimes Act (chapter 11 in the report).

Recommendations for disciplinary action

Given that Eman Sharobeem no longer works for the Immigrant Women’s Health Service or the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (neither of which any longer exist), nor the Community Relations Commission or the Anti-Discrimination Board NSW, the issue of whether consideration should be given to the taking of action against her for a disciplinary offence or with a view to her dismissal does not arise.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission makes 12 corruption prevention recommendations to the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) and the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), the two NSW Government agencies that substantially funded the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS), and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH), as follows:

Recommendation 1

That the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), in conjunction with relevant non-government organisations (NGOs), develops additional outcomes-based key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the critical objectives of the services that it funds. Where possible, measurement of these KPIs should not be based solely on information self-reported by NGOs.

Recommendation 2

That the SWSLHD adopts a coordinated and holistic framework for monitoring its funded NGOs that incorporates and links NGO governance capability, performance measures and financial reporting. This should entail less reliance on self-reported information.

Recommendation 3

That the SWSLHD considers allocating additional staff to manage the NGOs it funds. Considerations for setting adequate staffing levels could include the nature of the service, the vulnerability of the client groups, and the potential governance and financial risks that could arise.

Recommendation 4

That the SWSLHD requires funded NGOs to provide it with copies of audit management letters from external auditors.

Recommendation 5

That the SWSLHD conducts an initial, thorough review of its funded NGOs, focusing on financial competence and whether adequate governance arrangements are in place to ensure probity around funding arrangements.

Recommendation 6

That the SWSLHD develops risk metrics and conducts regular risk assessments of funded NGOs. The risk metrics should have regard to the risks that small NGOs can be prone to, including:

  • limited staff numbers
  • perverse incentives to falsify client data, either to enhance reputation or to lobby for increased funding
  • ·volunteer boards with limited time and skills to properly oversee the financial and administrative practices of the NGO and that members of these boards may not be aware of their responsibilities as managers of the CEO and/or other senior staff
  • poorly segregated financial practices and controls
  • CEO/coordinators with limited skills in managing staff, and in overseeing financial practices and systems.

Recommendation 7

That the SWSLHD checks and, wherever possible, verifies the qualifications, and continued registration(where relevant), of NGO employees. This should adopt a risk-based approach by focusing on qualifications that are:

  • mandatory to perform the service
  • required for the provision of medical, psychological and allied health services or
  • linked to the provision of any other services that could bring risks to the NGOs’ clients, and to the NGOs themselves.

These checks could take the form of spot checks, risk-based checks or randomised checks on NGO staff members.

Recommendation 8

That SWSLHD considers requiring funded NGOs to maintain an internal reporting or whistleblowing program that aligns to better practice (such as AS 8004-2003), and/or guidance issued by the NSW Ombudsman. Among other things, this should facilitate reporting directly to the SWSLHD or a similar representative body.

Recommendation 9

That the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) considers requiring funded NGOs to provide it with copies of audit management letters from external auditors.

Recommendation 10

That FACS, in conjunction with relevant NGOs, develops additional outcomes-based KPIs that reflect the critical objectives of the services that it funds. Where possible, measurement of these KPIs should not be based solely on information self-reported by NGOs.

Recommendation 11

That FACS considers, as part of its ongoing review of its contract governance framework, implementing checks and (wherever possible) verifying qualifications, and continued registration (where necessary) of NGO employees.

Recommendation 12

That FACS considers requiring funded NGOs to maintain an internal reporting or whistleblowing program that aligns to better practice (such as AS 8004-2003) and/or guidance issued by the NSW Ombudsman. Among other things, this should facilitate reporting directly to FACS or a similar representative

Responses to ICAC recommendations

The action plans posted below have been provided by the South Western Sydney Local Health District and the Department of Family and Community Services in response to the ICAC’s recommendations. Their publication here is to show the status of the responses. It does not constitute approval or endorsement by the Commission.

Action plan - South Western Sydney Local Health District

Action plan - Family and Community Services (FACS)

Media Releases

ICAC finds former NGO principal officer corrupt

19 Sep 2018

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that Eman Sharobeem, the former principal officer of two non-government organisations (NGOs) established to assist immigrant women’s health and non-English speaking women’s housing needs, engaged in serious corrupt conduct by misapplying up to $773,000 in public funds to benefit herself and members of her family.

MEDIA ALERT: ICAC Operation Tarlo public inquiry to resume tomorrow

11 Jul 2017

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Tarlo public inquiry will resume tomorrow, Wednesday 12 July 2017 at 10:00 am.

MEDIA ALERT: ICAC Operation Tarlo public inquiry to resume Tuesday 13 June

9 Jun 2017

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Tarlo public inquiry will resume next Tuesday, 13 June 2017 at 10:00 am.

MEDIA ALERT: ICAC corruption allegations concerning former Immigrant Women’s Health Service CEO public inquiry starts Monday

28 Apr 2017

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Tarlo public inquiry will start next Monday, 1 May 2017 at 10:00 am.

ICAC public inquiry into corruption allegations concerning former Immigrant Women’s Health Service CEO

20 Apr 2017

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry commencing on Monday 1 May 2017 as part of an investigation it is conducting into corruption allegations concerning Eman Sharobeem, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS) and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH).

Witness 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
13-07-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01263-02310 from 10.00am to 12.39pm.Redacted.pdf 214 13/07/17 01263-02310 10.00am to 12.39pm
12-07-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01202-01262 from 1.45pm to 4.02pm_Redacted.pdf 242 12/07/17 01202-01262 1.45pm to 4.02pm
12-07-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01153-01201 from 10.00am to 12.46pm_Redacted.pdf 215 12/07/17 01153-01201 10.00am to 12.46pm
16-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01115-01152 from 2.00pm to 3.52pm_Redacted.pdf 184 16/06/17 01115-01152 2.00pm to 3.52pm
16-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01083-01114 from 12.15am to 1.32pm_Redacted.pdf 165 16/06/17 01083-01114 12.15am to 1.32pm
15-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 01045-01082 from 2.00pm to 4.03pm.pdf 197 15/06/17 01045-01082 2.00pm to 4.03pm
15-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00982-01044 from 09.30am to 1.04pm_Redacted.pdf 297 15/06/17 00982-01044 09.30am to 1.04pm
14-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00941-00981 from 2.00pm to 4.05pm.pdf 194 14/06/17 00941-00981 2.00pm to 4.05pm
14-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00882-00940 from 10.00am to 1.03pm_Redacted.pdf 268 14/06/17 00882-00940 10.00am to 1.03pm
13-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00841-00881 from 2.00pm to 4.11pm_Redacted.pdf 205 13/06/17 00841-00881 2.00pm to 4.11pm
13-06-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00795-00840 from 10.00am to 1.04pm.pdf 214 13/06/17 00795-00840 10.00am to 1.04pm
15-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00792-00794 from 2.15pm to 2.16pm.pdf 78 15/05/17 00792-00794 2.15pm to 2.16pm
15-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00764-00791 from 12.00pm to 1.30pm_Redacted.pdf 163 15/05/17 00764-00791 12.00pm to 1.30pm
12-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00720-00763 from 2.00pm to 4.12pm_Redacted.pdf 201 12/05/17 00720-00763 2.00pm to 4.12pm
12-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00664-00719 from 10.00am to 1.05pm_Redacted.pdf 233 12/05/17 00664-00719 10.00am to 1.05pm
11-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00630-00663 from 2.00pm to 3.58pm_Redacted.pdf 176 11/05/17 00630-00663 2.00pm to 3.58pm
11-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00577-00629 from 10.00am to 12.56pm.pdf 217 11/05/17 00577-00629 10.00am to 12.56pm
10-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00554-00576 from 2.00pm to 3.23pm.pdf 142 10/05/17 00554-00576 2.00pm to 3.23pm
10-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00504-00553 from 10.00am to 1.00pm.pdf 219 10/05/17 00504-00553 10.00am to 1.00pm
09-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00465-00503 from 2.00pm to 4.04pm_Redacted.pdf 192 09/05/17 00465-00503 2.00pm to 4.04pm
09-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00409-00464 from 10.00am to 1.01pm.pdf 244 09/05/17 00409-00464 10.00am to 1.01pm
08-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00378-00408 from 10.25am to 12.18pm.pdf 156 08/05/17 00378-00408 10.25am to 12.18pm
05-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00367-00377 from 10.00am to 10.26am.pdf 105 05/05/17 00367-00377 10.00am to 10.26am
04-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00331-00366 from 2.00pm to 3.57pm.pdf 193 04/05/17 00331-00366 2.00pm to 3.57pm
04-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00281-00330 from 10.45am to 1.02pm.pdf 208 04/05/17 00281-00330 10.45am to 1.02pm
03-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00251-00280 from 2.00pm to 3.37pm.pdf 155 03/05/17 00251-00280 2.00pm to 3.37pm
03-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00200-00250 from 10.00am to 12.56pm.pdf 204 03/05/17 00200-00250 10.00am to 12.56pm
02-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00160-00199 from 2.00pm to 4.03pm_Redacted.pdf 199 02/05/17 00160-00199 2.00pm to 4.03pm
02-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00098-00159 from 10.00am to 12.48pm_Redacted.pdf 232 02/05/17 00098-00159 10.00am to 12.48pm
01-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00047-00097 from 2.00pm to 4.11pm_Redacted.pdf 226 01/05/17 00047-00097 2.00pm to 4.11pm
01-05-2017 Operation Tarlo transcript pp. 00001-00046 from 10.10am to 1.02pm.pdf 213 01/05/17 00001-00046 10.10am to 1.02pm
Exhibits
Tarlo Exhibit List (PDF)
Public notices