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Community groups asked to help identify wrong-doing

Ipswich City Council will today send letters to organisations who have received community donation funding from council since 2010.

The letters will ask recipients to help identify any potential wrong-doing which might have occurred in connection with the donations.

Council recently determined there were more than 700 items of memorabilia in its possession, many of which had been donated to council, and others which were bought at auction by then councillors.

“I want to make it clear that in no way, shape or form are we suggesting any organisation who has received community donations from council has done anything wrong,” the council’s interim administrator Greg Chemello said.

“Rather, we’re asking the community to help us identify where mistakes might have occurred.”

Mr Chemello said the letters were being sent as a result of the recent court judgement against former mayor Andrew Antoniolli.

The court found the former mayor was fraudulent when using council community donation funding to buy a number of items at charity auctions.

“Throughout the trial, evidence was presented that several councillors and another former mayor allegedly used a council community funding program to purchase auction items while at community events and fundraisers,” the letter reads.

“This has now been determined by the court to constitute fraud.

“Of particular concern was the process whereby a community donation form was sent to the relevant non-profit or event organiser following the event to process the payment for these auction items, with either implicit or explicit direction not to reference in the paperwork the fact that the payment was for an auction item.”

Mr Chemello said council was legally obliged under the Crime and Corruption Act to inform the Crime and Corruption Commission of any potential corrupt behaviours.

“It is certainly not my intent to sully the reputation of your organisation and the good work it does,” Mr Chemello says in the letter.

“But I need to ensure that your council can move forward, knowing it has taken all reasonable endeavours to address concerns of past behaviour, and for this to occur I require your assistance.”

The letter attaches a list of donations issued to each organisation since 2010.

Organisations have been asked to declare whether the donations were “in fact payments for auction items”.

Council’s internal audit team will be asked to assess each item, and determine whether information should be passed on to the CCC.

“I appreciate that this request may make you and/or some of your team uncomfortable,” Mr Chemello’s letter says.

“I understand that many of the former councillors had strong and lasting relationships with many local community groups and non-profit organisations.

“However, I must appeal for you to do the right thing and provide whatever evidence of possible fraud you may have so that we can turn these over to the proper authorities and ensure justice is served for the ratepayers and residents of Ipswich.”

Anyone wanting to pass on relevant information can contact council on 3810 6666.

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