“The acceptance of various recommendations of the Callinan/Aroney review by government in July 2013 set a new direction for the Commission. I am pleased to report that the Crime and Misconduct Commission will become the Crime and Corruption Commission in good financial shape for the tasks ahead.”
---Acting Chairman, Dr Ken Levy RFD
In 2013–14, the CMC’s Commission comprised Acting Chairperson Dr Ken Levy RFD, Commissioners Professor Marilyn McMeniman AM and Mr George Fox, and Acting Commissioners Mr Michael Keelty AO, APM and Mr Sydney Williams QC.
CMC achievements that year included:
- Charging 79 people with 403 criminal offences and seizing drugs with an estimated street value of nearly $3.8 million
- Restraining $13.799m in assets and forfeiting $7.654m to the State
- Recovering 34 weapons
- Conducting 348 days of coercive hearings, including 74 days of intelligence hearings in relation to criminal motorcycle gangs (CMGs)
- Finalising 61 misconduct investigations, resulting in eight people being charged with 138 criminal offences
- Making 122 recommendations for disciplinary action against 28 public sector employees
- Receiving 3,881 complaints containing 8,688 separate allegations
- Assisting the Queensland Police Service with 66 major crime operations across the state, through hearings and proceeds of crime action.
Release of reports into high-profile misconduct matters
Major fraud at Queensland Health
In September 2013, the CMC tabled its report Fraud, financial management and accountability in the Queensland public sector: an examination of how a $16.69 million fraud was committed on Queensland Health. This was the final stage of the CMC’s investigation into the fraud perpetrated by Joel Barlow (the “Tahitian prince”) and the work environment that facilitated his actions. The report included lessons learned from the Queensland Health experience and recommendations to managers and staff of public agencies.
Allegations of official misconduct against former Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland
In September 2013, the CMC tabled its report on allegations relating to the admission of the daughter of the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland into the School of Medicine. It called on all public sector agencies to consider whether their policies and procedures anticipated, and how they would deal with, the challenging circumstances of allegations of official misconduct being made against their most senior officers. The Crime and Corruption Act 2001 now requires agencies to have a policy to deal specifically with allegations against the public official.
A focus on criminal motorcycle gangs (CMGs)
In October 2013, in response to incidents of violence involving CMGs, the Queensland Government introduced new laws targeting the illegal activities of criminal organisations in the state. Amendments to the Crime and Misconduct Act gave the CMC new functions enabling it to hold hearings to gather intelligence about criminal activity by these organisations or associated misconduct by public officials. The powers also gave the CMC an immediate-response function relating to CMG-related incidents that threatened public safety or anticipated threats to public safety.
The CMC’s major crime function received specific 12-month funding from January 2014 to deliver its increased focus on CMGs and other criminal organisations.
CMG-related intelligence hearings focused on the membership and activities of Queensland-based CMGs, calling 80 witnesses to intelligence hearings over 74 days. CMG-related major crime hearings were conducted where it was assessed that those investigations were likely to yield valuable evidence concerning CMG offending in Queensland.
As a result, 91 witnesses were called to CMG-related hearings held over 81 days under the established criminal networks referral.
Through the hearings, the CMC collected intelligence on issues associated with CMGs in Queensland and produced intelligence reports that were disseminated to partner law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
A paper disseminated to senior government decision-makers and LEAs in October 2013 focused on CMG recruitment and expansion trends, the emergence of a new generation of CMG members, and potential increases in public acts of violence, particularly firearm-related violence.
A paper published in March 2014 reported on the infiltration by CMGs of the tattoo industry in Queensland.
During the 2013–14 financial year, the CMC undertook three prolonged investigations focusing on criminal organisations, which resulted in 39 persons being charged with 166 offences and the seizure of dangerous drugs with an estimated street value of $3.768 million.
Proceeds of crime — legislative changes and additional funding
Significant amendments were made to the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 (CPCA) which commenced 6 September 2013. They introduced unexplained wealth order provisions and a serious drug offender confiscation order (SDOCO) scheme.
Under the unexplained wealth order scheme, where the Supreme Court is satisfied there is a reasonable suspicion a person has engaged in one or more serious crime-related activities and any of the person’s current or previous wealth was acquired unlawfully, an unexplained wealth order must be made. The value of the unexplained wealth becomes a debt payable to the State.
The SDOCO scheme is a conviction-based scheme that depends on a person’s conviction for a serious drug offence under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992. When a serious drug offence certificate is issued by the court, the State can apply for a SDOCO to forfeit the person’s property.
The CPCA was also amended to allow hardship applications to be made by dependents of persons subject to forfeiture and money order penalties.
The CMC received funding for a three-year period from January 2014 for an additional proceeds of crime team and to help administer the unexplained wealth order scheme and the SDOCO scheme, as well as the increase in proceeds of crime referrals resulting from the QPS’s activity surrounding CMGs.
During the 2013-14 reporting period, the CMC received 38 proceeds of crime referrals from the QPS that were considered to have links to CMGs. Of those, 22 were deemed suitable for confiscation action and involved restrained property to the value of $3.734 million.
Transitioning from the CMC to the CCC
On 7 May 2014, the Queensland Parliament passed the Crime and Misconduct and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 to restructure, refocus and rename the Crime and Misconduct Commission as the Crime and Corruption Commission. The new Crime and Corruption Act 2001 would take effect from 1 July 2014.
Under the new legislation, the Crime function would retain its focus on the most serious crime, albeit with some additional powers to use intelligence hearings, while new Corruption provisions would require the CCC to focus on investigating serious and systemic corruption within units of public administration. The Commission’s corruption prevention function was removed.
To prepare the public sector for the transition, in June 2014 the CMC held information sessions for public sector employees, including senior executives, to outline the changes to its jurisdiction.
For more information on the CMC’s work during 2013-14, view the Annual Report here.