AFP raid public servant’s home during Leppington Triangle investigation

By Shannon Jenkins

April 21, 2021

AFP headquarters, Canberra.
The arrest was by made by officers of AFP’s Operation Wilmot. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Australian Federal Police officers have reportedly searched the home of a senior federal bureaucrat as part of a criminal investigation into the Leppington Triangle deal.

Last September the Australian National Audit Office found the Department of Infrastructure paid $30 million for a 12-hectare land parcel near Western Sydney Airport in 2018, despite it subsequently being valued at just $3 million.

AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw later confirmed that the agency had been investigating possible criminal offences related to the deal since July, following discussions with national auditor-general Grant Hehir. It was the first time ANAO had made a referral to the police, with Hehir having contacted Kershaw directly.

On Monday, the Australian Financial Review reported that police searched a public servant’s Canberra property in February as part of that investigation, after executing three warrants.

READ MORE: Opinion: secret airport land deals set to expose rotten public service practices

A number of inquiries have been launched into the land purchase since the ANAO’s findings first came to light. This includes an investigation into whether one public servant breached the Australian Public Service code of conduct, which is being conducted by former inspector general of intelligence and security Vivienne Thom .

ANAO officials recently told a parliamentary inquiry that they were concerned that only one public servant was being investigated by Thom. They had advised the Department of Infrastructure that there was another public servant who they believed should be investigated.

The second bureaucrat, according to the ANAO had signed off on a brief that had proposed the department purchase the Leppington Triangle for up to $31.78 million, despite them believing the land to be worth $30 million at the time.

READ MORE: Paul Fletcher said $30 million airport deal was ‘sensible’, inquiry hears


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