Western Australia’s Housing Authority will go under the microscope following an allegations that a senior public servant and another man defrauded the Department of more than $2.5 million.
In a statement released yesterday, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced an independent review into the Authority, which now sits within the Department of Communities.
Set to be overseen by the Public Sector Commission, the review will focus on the Authority’s governance, legal and administrative arrangements.
The review follows the arrests of 56-year-old Paul Whyte, who currently serves as the assistant director general of WA’s Department of Communities on charges of allegedly stealing more than $2.5 million worth of public money.
As shown on his LinkedIn profile, Mr Whyte was the general manager of the Department of Housing for 10 years before it was absorbed into the Department of Communities in 2017.
It is alleged that he and another man, who cannot be identified, manufactured false invoices at the Department over two years and had money paid into company bank accounts before withdrawing it for personal use.
Both Whyte and the other man were arrested whilst both remain in custody after being refused bail.
As reported on the ABC, the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission initiated the investigation and said the charges followed an intensive probe which was conducted in conjunction with the state’s police force.
McGowan said the allegations, if proven, were disturbing.
He said the charges came after the CCC was given new powers in 2018 to investigate unexplained wealth.
“If proven, what has come out today is absolutely appalling and would be a complete betrayal of every Western Australian,” McGowan said.
“The Housing Authority is responsible for helping the most vulnerable people in our community and the public rightly expects it to operate with the highest standards of integrity.
“I commend the Attorney General for strengthening the powers of our investigative bodies to become alert to conduct of this nature and vigorously pursue it.”