Renewal SA boss John Hanlon allegedly spent $48,000 on flights and food, court documents reveal

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday March 13, 2020


Former Renewal SA chief executive John Hanlon allegedly spent almost $48,000 in public funds on domestic and international trips, court documents have shown.

The allegations come 18 months after the bureaucrat was mysteriously put on leave, and just eight months after Planning Minister Stephan Knoll told a budget estimates hearing that Hanlon’s contract would not be renewed.

The ex public servant allegedly spent $20,469.72 on flights to Berlin, and $17, 273.33 on a flight to an unnamed destination, according to documents released by the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The documents allege Hanlon committed 11 offences during 2017 and 2018, and used his position to secure personal benefits.

He allegedly spent 1555 euros — $3196.39 — which was improperly charged to his agency. The documents show accommodation, dining and taxi expenses cost an additional $3521.32.

In Melbourne, Hanlon allegedly spent a total of $3,454 at Donovan’s Restaurant, Longrain Restaurant, and the Grand Hyatt hotel. While in St Kilda and South Yarra, the former executive allegedly acted dishonestly in the performance of his duties.

Hanlon allegedly falsified documents, including a travel expense form, a Renewal SA memorandum, and a post-it note, to facilitate the fraud.

His former colleague Georgina Vasilevski has also been accused of falsely claiming a $1,032 trip to Melbourne.

The former bureaucrats were charged following an 18-month investigation by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander. Hanlon’s first court hearing one Wednesday was the first time he and Vasilevski were publicly linked with the ICAC probe.

In a statement last week, Lander did not name the defendants, but suggested Vasilevski had been arrested on January 30 this year. Hanlon was arrested on March 5.

Vasilevski has been charged with one count of abuse of public office, and three counts of acting dishonestly, while Hanlon faces two counts of abuse of public office, three counts of deception, one count of acting dishonestly, and five counts of dishonestly dealing with documents.

They have said they would fight the charges.

On Wednesday Hanlon told reporters the allegations were “nonsense”.

“You all know I’ve been working on a number of major projects for the state, worth billions of dollars… those projects have required me to travel extensively, interstate and overseas,” he said.

“I’ve worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the state, and had oversight of a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. To suggest I’ve fraudulently spent $24,000 on personal travel is nonsense.”

His barrister, David Edwardson QC, asked the court to allow Hanlon to travel to Melbourne for “business and social” reasons. His bail was changed to allow for trips to Victoria, provided he let the police know of travel dates.

He was banned from communicating with any current or former Renewal SA employees.

The pair will return to court in June.

READ MORE: Senior public service executive left stranded after long holiday

Last year a former employee of Renewal SA was charged with illegally disclosing information about an ICAC investigation.

The 24-year-old woman allegedly received and shared information connected with an investigation by the ICAC on four separate occasions in September 2018. She was the first person to ever be charged under ICAC’s confidentiality provision.

Also in September 2018, SA Attorney-General Vicki Chapman appeared to have breached the same rules by indirectly confirming that Hanlon was under investigation by ICAC.

After being questioned about why Hanlon and another unnamed executive — presumably Vasilevski — were suddenly on paid leave, Chapman issued a public statement saying she had asked Lander if she could say any more about the matter.

She quickly withdrew her statement, and Lander stayed silent over whether the secrecy provision had been breached.

READ MORE: SA public servant charged with breaching ICAC confidentiality law


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