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Case E: Internal corruption

Mr R formed a corrupt relationship with people involved in the illicit trade. He used his position as an investigator to obtain favours from them. For example, he warned one dealer about planned ATO raids and turned a blind eye to illicit tobacco dealing carried out by his accomplices. In return, Mr R received benefits including a paid overseas trip and information about other illicit dealers.

Mr R and Mr D participated in a fake ATO raid on the premises of a dealer whose address was provided by an accomplice, Mr X. Mr X approached the dealer on the pretence of purchasing bales of tobacco leaf. Mr R and Mr D pretended to arrest Mr X while another accomplice, Mr Y, took away the tobacco bales as part of the fake raid. Mr Y subsequently sold the bales and shared the proceeds with Mr R and Mr D.

Mr R was charged with a range of criminal offences and in February 2012 a jury found him guilty of several offences. He was sentenced to 29 months' imprisonment.

Mr D was charged with one count of theft of Commonwealth property. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.

The court noted the obligation of those entrusted with such roles to conduct themselves with professionalism and integrity. It also noted that the conduct attracted suspicion on all ATO investigators and therefore inflicted significant reputational damage upon the ATO.

Lessons

  • Even people with strong law enforcement backgrounds can have questionable integrity.
  • Integrity protocols need to include measures to monitor those responsible for maintaining organisational integrity.
  • The bad actions of a small number of employees can cause lingering reputational damage to an agency.