Land council chief ‘Jack’ Johnson ‘engaged in serious corrupt conduct’

Mark (Jack) Johnson at the ICAC hearings last year.Former Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Mark (Jack)Johnson has been found to have engaged in serious corrupt conduct, but will escape a penalty.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption said it was “not of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Johnson for any criminal offences”.

“As Mr Johnson is no longer employed by [Gandangara land council], the possibility of taking disciplinary action against him or taking action with a view to his dismissal as a public official does not arise,” the commission said.

Gandangara Aboriginal Land Council, which is based in Liverpool, owns, and has sought to develop, extensive land holdings in West Menai and Barden Ridge, including the Heathcote Ridge site where approval was granted last year for a much smaller scale development than originally proposed.

The commissioninvestigated after it received reports in 2014 from the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the chief executiveof the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and the Aboriginal Land Rights registrar.

Their reports included allegationspersonal expenses incurred by Mr Johnson were paid for by the Gandangara land council, that there was a fundamental breakdown in basic internal control and oversight of fund transfers.

Former ICAC commissioner Megan Latham held public hearingsover 19 days in May and June 2016at which 23 witnesses gave evidence.

In a report released on Thursday, the commission found Mr Johnson engaged in serious corrupt conduct by continuing to act as chief executive of the land council while receiving benefits of more than $107,000 of its funds for his own private company in 2010.

The report said Mr Johnson knew his company, Waawidji Pty Ltd, was receiving the benefits and also knew this was not allowed under the Aboriginal Lands Rights Act.

The Commission also found Mr Johnson engaged in serious corrupt conduct by authorising the transfer of a total of $4.97 million in 14 payments from the land council’s trust account to another of its accounts, Gandangara Future Fund, against legal advice the funds should be via a secured loan.

Twelve of the transfers were also contrary to a resolution by land council members, while three contravened a direction of the Aborigibal Land Rights registrar.

The report said Mr Johnson had further engaged in serious corrupt conduct by arrange payments totalling $70,568, to fund another land council’s sale of 10 lots of land at Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains, which benefited his private company by $5500 per lot.

The Commission did not make any findings of serious corrupt conduct against members of the board ofGandangara land council.

The report can be viewed at: icac.nsw.gov419论坛

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