Councils losing millions to fraud

Qld local councils have lost a minimum of $8.6 million in alleged and confirmed fraud over the past half-decade. They need to do more, says the Queensland auditor-general.

Fraud is costing local government millions of dollars but it is difficult to know the full extent thanks to “unreliable” record-keeping, argues a Queensland auditor-general’s report tabled in parliament last week.

The investigation found that councils not only have poor fraud prevention and detection systems, but that a lack of coordinated or centralised reporting meant that recorded incidents differed between individual councils and the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Surveying a range of local government areas across the state, the Queensland Auditor’s Office discovered that 65% (or 43 of 66 respondent councils) do not have a fraud or corruption control plan or similar document, meaning “that most councils in Queensland have no overarching plan for preventing, detecting and responding to fraud,” said the report. Of those that do have a fraud or corruption control plan, around half had failed to implement it properly or were not maintaining their fraud risk management as an ongoing governance activity.

The councils surveyed told the QAO they had detected 324 cases of alleged and confirmed fraud between 1 July 2009 and November 2014, involving $8.6 million. Of the 194 confirmed cases, 18 (9.3%) were greater than $10,000; two alleged fraud cases were more than one million dollars. 42% of the alleged and confirmed frauds reported to the QAO came from one, unnamed council, which has been referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

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