Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Council's Systems Deficient; Report Finds 'Fraud Risk'

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Council's Systems Deficient; Report Finds 'Fraud Risk'

Article excerpt

Byline: Hayden Johnson

A SCATHING report into the financial management of the Ipswich City Council has warned of an increased risk of fraud and revealed unauthorised donations were made to community groups.

The Queensland Audit Office's interim report to the council analysed internal processes, systems and financial reporting issues.

It found six significant deficiencies in the management of the council and its controlled companies.

In its investigation, the Queensland Audit Office found an "increased risk of unauthorised or inappropriate changes being made" to council records.

The office warned the lack of transparency "may result in duplicate payments, payments being made to incorrect bank accounts or fraud".

The office's interim report is based on its audit work performed to February 28 this year.

In another "significant deficiency", the audit office uncovered the unusual payment of four employees through a "deed of release" agreement.

It found the pay incentive provided to each employee differed -- with one staffer getting 16 weeks of standard pay on their termination date while another received four weeks.

The audit office noted "there were inconsistent levels of documentation available to us to support the reason for each of these employees' terminations".

"Payments made under a deed of release could result in potential misuse of the current system, may be seen as favouring particular employees, and could expose council to unnecessary reputational risks," the report found.

The audit office found unauthorised payments to community groups.

The council's Community and Citywide Donations Policy stipulates if the maximum amount of any donations for any one applicant any financial year is more than $5000, the allocation will be required to be approved by the CEO in consultations with the mayor and deputy mayor. …

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