Three public servants working at the federal Department of Finance have been charged for allegedly defrauding the government by directing IT contracts through preferred suppliers.
The Australian Federal Police arrested the three men following a year-long investigation by the force’s Northern Command’s Fraud and Anti-Corruption Team.
They have been charged with “conspiracy to defraud the Australian government while working for an Australian public services agency”, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail.
Seven search warrants were executed in Canberra suburbs of Griffith, Barton, Narrabundah, Amaroo, Palmerston and Forrest on Wednesday.
Police will allege that the three men “conspired to direct IT contracts through preferred suppliers, and then received financial benefits as a result of this activity”.
Finance first reported the matter to the AFP in July 2019.
Two of the men, a 47-year-old Griffith man and a 50-year-old Palmerston man, have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth and abuse of public office.
A 36-year-old Barton man has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.
The maximum penalty for defrauding the Commonwealth is 10 years jail, while the charge of abuse of office carries a maximum penalty of five years.
They will face the ACT Magistrates Court in Canberra today.
Deputy commissioner Ian McCartney said the AFP was committed to identifying and prosecuting anyone who misuses public money.
“Fraud is not a victimless crime and when public funds are used for personal gain, people are taking valuable funds away from essential services like hospitals and schools, impacting on all of us,” he said.
“This is a complex investigation, involving the analysis of a significant volume of information.
“This includes substantial information referred to the AFP by the Department of Finance, and investigators will continue to conduct financial enquiries to ensure we have a complete understanding of this matter.”