Jailed WA public servant ‘in no rush’ to take bail

By Shannon Jenkins

February 4, 2020

Adobe Stock

The senior bureaucrat who allegedly stole millions of dollars worth of public funds over a decade will remain behind bars while he seeks legal advice, but has not ruled out taking bail.

Sacked Department of Communities assistant director general Paul Whyte appeared briefly in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday via a video call from Hakea Prison.

A joint investigation by WA Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission last year found Whyte and physiotherapist Jacob Anthonisz had allegedly stolen $22 million in public funds between 2008 and 2019 through a fake invoice scheme.

In December, the court heard the invoices had been paid to three companies that had no employees and that were controlled by Anthonisz. One of the largest payments was made in 2012, when 26 allegedly false invoices were submitted to the Department of Communities and $2.7 million was paid to one of the companies.

It has previously been reported the former public servant would plead guilty to more than 530 charges, in what CCC chief executive Ray Warnes has described as “the most serious case of public sector corruption in Australia”.

Court was scheduled to resume this month but lawyer Michael Tudori said the case has been adjourned until March so Whyte could obtain further legal advice.

On Monday Tudori told reporters Whyte had not taken up his $1.5 million bail because he “wanted to assess where he’s going”, but taking the bail had not been ruled out completely.

“There’s a lot of charges that he needs to work out, we need to work out whether the amounts that the prosecution allege are correct — that takes time,” he said.

“He obviously accepts that he’s done wrong, and accepts the allegations, it’s just working out, actually, have I done that particular charge?

“He’s in no rush, he just wants to do it properly.”

Late last year Whyte spent a month in hospital after he tried to take his life. Tudori said Whyte has been “doing well”.

Read more: Major corruption scandal sparks WA public sector reform

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