Fraud probe into invoice paid by ACT public housing taskforce
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Fraud probe into invoice paid by ACT public housing taskforce

An ACT police investigation into a mysterious fraudulent invoice paid to an "illegitimate" bank account by the ACT's public housing taskforce has failed to track down the culprit, despite 12 months spent on the case.

The fraud also triggered an internal review of the taskforce's arrangements in place to detect and prevent fraud in relation to the payment of accounts with its suppliers and contractors.

The territory government has refused to name the company or individuals who were paid under the invoice, nor detail how much money was transferred out of taxpayers' hands, though the money has since been returned to government coffers.

The fraud was identified last financial year, with the taskforce - then part of the Chief Minister's directorate - referring the matter to ACT Policing in June 2017.

Police found the fraud involved the deliberate falsification of bank account details, resulting in a legitimate payment to a contractor being deposited into an account controlled by "illegitimate parties", police seem to have been unable to identify the parties involved.

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ACT Policing said there was no evidence of fraudulent activity by any territory government employees in the fraud, and despite an extensive 12-month investigation - including inquiries through the federal police's international networks, the perpetrators could not be found.

It is understood the fraud was able to occur due to staff on the taskforce failing to verify the bank account details with the un-named government contractor before making the payment to the illegitimate parties.

"The accounts payable fraud detection and prevention review found that the taskforce has a strong awareness of fraud risk and a fraud control focus in its account payable function," a directorate spokeswoman said.

"The review recommended strengthening controls to verify requests for changes to supplier bank account details."

The government also said all the recommendations of the review had since been implemented, though the culprit, whether domestic or international, remains at large.

Daniel Burdon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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