05/07/2019 - 13:00

Potato chief embroiled in CCC saga

05/07/2019 - 13:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

The former chief executive of the Potato Marketing Corporation and another senior public servant have been slammed by the Corruption and Crime Commission for a consulting arrangement where one allegedly used their position for enrichment at the state's expense.

Potato chief embroiled in CCC saga
The CCC reported today on abuse of power at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The former chief executive of the Potato Marketing Corporation and another senior public servant have been slammed by the Corruption and Crime Commission for a consulting arrangement where one allegedly used their position for enrichment at the state's expense.

The CCC reported today on abuse of power at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, with the issues centred around the former director of the legal and commercial division Felicity Heffernan.

When the Potato Marketing Corporation was abolished in 2016, about $1.2 million was allocated for the closure, the CCC said.

Peter Evans, who was chief executive at the time, had lobbied for the funds to pay out staff at the corporation.

“Between them, Ms Heffernan and Mr Evans brought about a situation where Mr Evans was, in effect, paid a full redundancy (close to $400,000) then immediately hired as a consultant to assist DPIRD in ongoing litigation between the state and entities associated with Mr Tony Galati,” the CCC said. 

“Ms Heffernan prepared a purported letter of engagement by a firm of solicitors, Kott Gunning. 

“The solicitors knew nothing of the letter and did not authorise it. 

“The extent to which Mr Evans fulfilled his consultancy role having regard to the hours claimed is open to doubt.

Mr Evans used his position as chief executive to enrich himself at the state's expense.”

The CCC is not able to make determinations of guilt, but can make findings of serious misconduct.

The report said the CCC was of the view Ms Heffernan’s behaviour had been serious misconduct.

The commission alledged Ms Heffernan was involved in another matter, which involved the use of plant breeding rights expert Howard Carr in circumvention of a hiring freeze.

“Ms Heffernan entered into an arrangement with a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills to circumvent the requirements of a government-ordered public sector recruitment freeze to allow Dr Carr, whose employment contract had expired, to continue to work for DPIRD,” the CCC said. 

“Only one payment was made to Dr Carr through HSF. 

“Later, to enable Dr Carr to continue to be paid, Ms Heffernan falsified a letter of engagement purportedly from HSF and backdated it. 

Dr Carr signed the letter.”

Dr Carr issued about $106,000 of invoices over 13 months.

Dr Carr gave his invoices to Ms Heffernan who told him she was giving them to HSF,” the CCC said.

“She did not do so.“

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options