The CSIRO has sacked one of its senior executives over an alleged fraud involving an official credit card.
The allegation against the organisation's general manager for business and infrastructure services, Mark Wallis, has been referred to federal police.
Mr Wallis was the executive in charge of one of the federal government's biggest land deals, the sale of the CSIRO's 701-hectare field station on the ACT-New South Wales border to be developed for hundreds of houses.
The proceeds of the massive deal are to bolster the cash-strapped organisation's research efforts.
Mr Wallis joined the CSIRO in 2011 after working as a property manager for the AFP.
In a statement released on Tuesday, CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan confirmed that Mr Wallis was no longer employed by the organisation and there had been a breach of the CSIRO code-of-conduct in relation to "expenditure".
"The CSIRO Code of Conduct is there to ensure the appropriate standards of behaviour are upheld and that the trust placed in our employees by the CSIRO, as a Commonwealth Government organisation, is respected," Mr Morgan said.
"We take potential breaches of the CSIRO Code of Conduct seriously.
"Recently, we have identified such a breach relating to expenditure.
"The individual is no longer employed by CSIRO.
"It is not appropriate for us to comment further."
But in an email sent to all staff on Tuesday, Chief Finance Officer Hazel Bennett warned that any other breaches could result in the organization's management calling the police.
"In instances where there has been a suspected breach reported, or we have fair reason to believe that a breach may have occurred, it is our responsibility to ensure the matter is reviewed and if necessary investigated and the appropriate course of action taken including, where relevant, referral to the AFP," Ms Bennett wrote.
"Serious breaches are unusual but it is a reminder to us all to be familiar with the code of conduct and relevant policies and procedures."
It is unclear what effect Mr Wallis's sacking will have on the vast Ginninderra project, which has been in the pipeline since 2011, but it comes at a crucial time for the scheme.
The CSIRO began the second stage of its procurement process this month to select a developer to build the hundreds of houses at the Belconnen site from a shortlist compiled as part of the first phase.
The process was expected to take the rest of the year with a successful tenderer to be announced in early 2018.
The CSIRO hoped to begin building at its former field station in 2019.