ICAC concludes former uni IT manager was corrupt

Following a public inquiry, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption has concluded that former university IT manager Brett Roberts was guilty of corrupt conduct.

The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that Brett Roberts engaged in corrupt conduct when he was the IT manager at the University of Newcastle from 2006 to 2007, the University of Sydney in 2010 and 2011, and Macquarie University from 2012 to 2013.

In its report -- Investigation into the conduct of a university manager and others in relation to false invoicing -- the ICAC said that Roberts dishonestly exercised his public official functions through authorising and certifying the payment of false invoices, which resulted in him receiving over AU$86,000 in corrupt payments in relation to work that was never done.

From the total, AU$27,750 was paid by the University of Newcastle, AU$43,065 by the University of Sydney, and AU$42,900 by Macquarie University. There was also an attempt to obtain a further AU$97,350 from Macquarie University on another set of fake invoices, but it was unsuccessful.

The commission said Roberts caused, or attempted to cause, the payments of false invoices to a private company known as Management and Professional Services (MAPS), a sole operator IT consultancy owned by Roberts' friend at the time, Christopher Killalea.

While the commission accepted that Killalea was not involved in the scheme to submit false invoices to the University of Sydney, the ICAC said he was involved in the issuing of false invoices to the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University.

The ICAC concluded with respect to the prosecution of Roberts and Killalea that they should be taken into consideration for various offences, including fraud, obtaining money by deception, and, in the case of Roberts, using a false document -- his curriculum vitae -- to obtain employment at the universities.

The commission has also recommended that all three universities ensure that employment screening checks are performed on preferred applicants in line with the Australian Standard on Employment Screening.

The ICAC launched a public inquiry into Roberts in February as part of an investigation into allegations concerning the former university IT manager.

During the public inquiry, Roberts took the stand and admitted to issuing over a dozen false invoices under MAPS to the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney, and Macquarie University that amounted to a total of AU$113,715, with a majority addressed to himself and approved by him.

Roberts said that during his employment with each of the universities, despite being paid a full-time salary at each position, he was "broke" and faced difficulties paying general utility bills -- which he claimed were sometimes in excess of AU$3,000 per quarter -- school fees, and general living expenses. He said that this was the catalyst for why he defrauded all three universities.

When Killalea took the stand, he said that "stupid loyalty" pushed his willingness to assist Roberts in arranging fake invoices.

A similar case was addressed by the ICAC in 2012, when it found former University of Sydney IT manager Atilla Demiralay guilty of corrupt conduct.

Demiralay was accused of using a company he held a significant interest in to hire IT contractors, who were mainly family and friends, over a five-year period.