$16m man slipped past QLD Health audits

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$16m man slipped past QLD Health audits

KPMG, Clayton Utz to investigate.

The Queensland Health staffer arrested this morning for embezzling $16 million in public funds was cleared by two internal agency investigations last year.

Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, 36, was arrested early this morning at his Brisbane home this morning after he was accused of ripping off millions when he was finance manager of a Queensland Health’s community services branch.

In the last two weeks, Barlow was said to have siphoned $11 million in a single payment from the agency.

Queensland Health investigations failed to catch Barlow after suspicions were raised he may have embezzled money.

The agency was also warned by Queensland's auditor-general in June that it was vulnerable to fraud.

Queensland Health Minister Geoff Wilson told the ABC the embezzled millions raised questions over the integrity of the agency audit.

 "It certainly raises question marks over what took place 12 months ago," Wilson said.

External auditors Clayton Utz and KPMG were called in to conduct audits on Queensland Health systems to identify vulnerabilities that Barlow may have used to embezzle the cash.

Queensland Premiere Anna Bligh said “heads will roll” if failings in its systems are discovered.

"Any system is at the mercy of a dishonest person but if it is shown that there are problems with government processes that allowed this money to be stolen, make no mistake, heads will roll,” Bligh said.

Failures in the beleaguered Queensland Health agency IT systems were well documented. The agency was embrolied in a rolling scandal with failing payment systems, while current and former staff  had accused IT management of incompetence.

Queensland Health had most recently led to a string of overpayments to medical practitioners that forced the agency claw back some $80 million.

Barlow is in custody at Royal Brisbane Hospital but the reasons for his hospital admission are unclear.

Police seized a large but undisclosed sum of money and Barlow assets, including a property, artwork and luxury cars.

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