Date published 18 December 2019

“I believe the results the CCC achieved in 2018-19 on behalf of Queenslanders demonstrate the importance of an independent agency dedicated to fighting crime and public sector corruption. We have achieved excellent operational results from our crime and corruption investigations that were conducted during the 2018-19 financial year”. 

---Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC 

Legislation to reform the police discipline system introduced in Parliament 

Following the establishment of a CCC-led police discipline working group in 2016, the CCC has continued to focus on police complaints and discipline reform, and collaborated with stakeholders to implement a new system that delivers a more efficient and consistent approach to managing discipline matters.

The Police Service (Discipline Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced in Parliament on 13 February 2019 with the objective to implement the new police discipline system. The proposed discipline model provides options for abbreviated investigations, introduces a broader range of sanctions, and improves timeframes.

A continued focus on excessive use of force

In 2018–19, the CCC finalised 12 investigations and reviewed a further 85 matters where it was alleged that excessive force was used. 

As a result of the investigations, a custodial correctional officer from the Wolston Correctional Centre was charged with common assault and two matters were referred to the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service recommending disciplinary action. A further two matters were referred to Queensland Corrective Services to continue to deal with as disciplinary matters. 

The CCC was satisfied with the way the agencies dealt with the majority of the 85 investigations reviewed. The CCC recommended seven procedural improvements, mainly focused on additional training and supervision in use of force situations. The CCC also referred 453 matters back to agencies, including 86 matters to be investigated subject to monitoring by the CCC.

Thirty years on from the Fitzgerald Inquiry, the CCC faces new challenges due technological advancements, and the significant corruption risks associated with public sector employees accessing and potentially misusing confidential information. 

In 2018-19, the CCC reviewed its major crime strategy with a focus on how it could complement the efforts of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and other law enforcement partners, given the increasingly complex, borderless and technology-enabled crime environment. 

The review reinforced that the CCC’s unique examination and civil confiscation powers, when used in collaboration with its law enforcement partners, are the proper focus of the strategy and activities that ensure the CCC does not duplicate other efforts and contributes measurable value to the challenge of reducing major crime in Queensland.

Among the most significant outcomes of its work over the 2018-19 financial year, the CCC:

  • Charged 36 people with 126 criminal offences relating to crime investigations 
  • Held 208 hearing days related to crime investigations
  • Restrained assets to the value of $28.2M
  • Forfeited assets to the State valued at $13.6M
  • Charged 23 people with 192 criminal offences relating to corruption investigations
  • Held 36 days of hearings relating to corruption investigations
  • Received 3109 complaints containing 8329 allegations of corrupt conduct 
  • Made 17 recommendations for disciplinary action from corruption investigations relating to 10 people
  • Made 33 recommendations in our report Taskforce Flaxton: An examination of corruption risks and corruption in Queensland prisons. The report was tabled in Parliament on 14 December 2018.
  • On 14 August 2018, we tabled in Parliament Culture and corruption risks in local government: lessons from an investigation into Ipswich City Council (Operation Windage)
  • Launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 
  • Published five corruption audit reports

Creating a digital workplace 

In order to remain financially sustainable in the long term, the CCC invested in a multi-year Digital Workplace Program (DWP). This supports the CCC’s intention to reduce the total cost of ownership of infrastructure and move to an as-a-service model for its operations and systems. The DWP will significantly enhance its intelligence analysis, the processing of digital evidence, and provide for a secure and contemporary cloud-based platform.

Other efforts to support a digital workplace include the implementation of a new security framework, improved forensic computing technology, a new case management system, and the implementation of a “Cloud” computing strategy focused on back-up and disaster recovery.

Changes to the CCC’s governing legislation 

In March 2019, the CCC welcomed amendments to its legislation. The changes removed the benefit or detriment component of the definition of corrupt conduct and required public sector agencies to record the reasons why they have not referred a matter to the CCC. The changes also recognise that people outside the public sector can exploit, adversely influence or corrupt public sector processes. This means the CCC can now investigate allegations made about members of the public if their conduct impairs, or could impair, confidence in public sector administration.

Significant operations in 2018-19

Operation Front 

Operation Front commenced in November 2017 after evidence relating to the Mayor of Logan City Council was uncovered during Operation Belcarra. The investigation focused on allegations of reprisal, bullying, misuse of authority and misuse of council funds. 

In April 2018, the CCC charged the suspended mayor with four criminal offences. Following further investigation, in April 2019 the CCC charged the mayor with additional criminal offences, and seven councillors were also charged.

On 2 May 2019, the Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
announced the Logan City Council was dismissed and an interim administrator had been appointed. 

Operation Windage 

In October 2016, the CCC commenced Operation Windage to investigate allegations of corruption related to the Ipswich City Council. As at 30 June 2019, 16 people, including council employees, two mayors, two Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and one Chief Operating Officer, have been charged with 91 criminal offences.

On 15 February 2019 four people were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for corruption offences: 

  • Former Ipswich City Council CEO Carl Wulff pleaded guilty to two counts of official corruption and one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice, and was sentenced to a total of five years imprisonment, to be suspended after 20 months. 
  • Sharon Oxenbridge, Mr Wulff’s wife, pleaded guilty to two counts of official corruption and was sentenced to three years imprisonment, to be suspended after nine months. 
  • Council contractor Claude Walker pleaded guilty to one count of official corruption, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment, to be suspended after nine months. 
  • Businessman Wayne Myers pleaded guilty to a single count of official corruption, and was sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment, to be suspended after six months. 

In other Windage outcomes: 

  • On 3 May 2019 contractor, Wayne Innes, pleaded guilty to a number of charges including corruption, forgery and attempted fraud in the District Court in Brisbane and was sentenced to four years imprisonment, to be suspended after 12 months. 
  • On 6 June 2019 former Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli was convicted on 12 fraud offences and one attempted fraud in the Ipswich Magistrates Court. On 9 August, Mr Antoniolli was sentenced to six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for 18 months. 
  • On 12 June 2019 Troy Anthony Byers was found not guilty of fraud charges. 

On 21 August 2018, the Ipswich City Council was dismissed by the State Government and an interim administrator was appointed. 

A number of criminal matters continued to progress through the courts.

Operation Stockade 

Operation Stockade focused on allegations that a principal solicitor of a Brisbane-based criminal law firm received cash payments from certain clients and failed to comply with legal requirements to deposit those monies into the firm’s trust account. 

It was alleged that this was done with the intention of concealing the payments from both the firm and the Australian Taxation Office. In addition, some of the clients received financial support from Legal Aid Queensland and were alleged to have obtained this support by supplying false pay summaries and other information to Legal Aid Queensland. The Legal Aid payments were alleged to have been made to the law firm in addition to the cash payments received from the clients. 

The investigation resulted in a number of persons being charged with aggravated fraud, money laundering and related offences in relation to a total of over $900,000 in alleged cash payments made by the clients and an additional $350,000 in alleged payments obtained from Legal Aid Queensland.

For more information on the CCC’s work during 2018-19, view the Annual Report here.

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