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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases CMC public report into Queensland Health fraud tabled in Parliament — 25.09.2013
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases CMC public report into Queensland Health fraud tabled in Parliament — 25.09.2013
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases CMC public report into Queensland Health fraud tabled in Parliament — 25.09.2013

CMC public report into Queensland Health fraud tabled in Parliament — 25.09.2013

A CMC report into Hohepa Morehu-Barlow’s $16.69 million fraud against Queensland Health (QHealth) has made five recommendations and identified five key areas all public sector agencies should vigilantly monitor to prevent fraud against the State of Queensland.

The report, Fraud, financial management and accountability in the Queensland public sector was tabled in State Parliament this morning.

The CMC’s Assistant Commissioner of Misconduct, Kathleen Florian, said it included important information to help all public sector agencies and employees reduce the risk of fraud in their workplaces.

“All agencies will at some time encounter a high-risk employee intent on exploiting weaknesses in their systems,” Assistant Commissioner Florian said.

“It is not enough for agencies to simply have appropriate policies and procedures in place. It is also crucial that staff understand and adhere to them and that managers identify and deal with non-compliance.

“It is also important that public sector employees at all levels are aware of the risk of fraud and respond to inappropriate behaviour and work practices before they escalate.

“I would urge all Queensland public sector agencies and employees, against the background of the Barlow matter, to consider how they can minimise the risk of fraud in their workplaces.”

The report has identified five main areas in which public sector agencies should be vigilant:

  • Financial management
  • Managerial standards and accountability
  • Acceptance of gifts and benefits
  • Managing risk in a context of organisational change
  • Fraud awareness and prevention

The report also sets out the broader circumstances surrounding Barlow’s fraud and details the outcomes of several investigations that were sparked by the discovery of the fraud. 

They include a CMC-led cooperative misconduct investigation, codenamed Operation Proxima, which examined whether Barlow’s fraud involved official misconduct on the part of any person, including other QHealth officers.

“Barlow was a brazen and determined fraudster. He committed 65 fraudulent transactions totalling $16.69 million over a four-year period commencing in October 2007. The CMC’s misconduct investigation found he acted alone,” Assistant Commissioner Florian said.

Although the investigation found that Barlow acted alone in committing the fraud, it also found that a number of QHealth officers failed to comply with existing policy and procedures and, in so doing, defeated a number of internal controls which may have otherwise prevented Barlow’s offending or led to it being identified much earlier.

The CMC concluded there was sufficient evidence to substantiate 24 allegations of misconduct against nine QHealth officers, including Barlow. Some of the nine subject officers identified are no longer employed in the public service.

In May 2013, the CMC sent QHealth’s Director-General a detailed investigation report, which recommended that QHealth consider taking disciplinary action against those officers who were still employed in the public service.  

“The CMC acknowledges that since Barlow’s fraud was identified, Queensland Health has taken significant steps to improve its systems and to improve staff compliance with fraud control mechanisms,” Assistant Commissioner Florian said.

The report also sets out the findings of a CMC investigation into how QHealth, Queensland Police Service and the CMC handled an anonymous complaint alleging that Barlow was defrauding QHealth, which was made to the CMC in August 2010.

The CMC’s investigation identified concerns with the way the complaint was dealt with by some officers from QHealth, the QPS and the CMC.

The report also includes the outcomes of the QPS criminal investigation, the CMC’s proceeds of crime action and the work undertaken by QHealth to strengthen fraud prevention.

A copy of the CMC’s public report is available on the CMC’s website

Last updated: 27 September 2013
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