Operation Wakefield was an investigation into allegations of bribery concerning employees from a public body licensing team.
IBAC investigated bribery allegations concerning three former employees from a public body licensing team. Allegations were made that the employees had solicited bribes and/or loans from licensed and unlicensed applicants in the regulated service industry. In some instances, it was alleged that bribes were solicited in return for expediting the licence application process.
IBAC’s investigation found that a former regulatory officer, whilst employed at the public body, solicited and received money from service provider licensees and applicants. It could not be determined whether the officer provided anything in return for the money received. Accordingly, it was determined that it was not in the public interest to pursue prosecution of the officer.
IBAC also found that the bribery allegations relating to the two other former employees could not be substantiated due to insufficient evidence and the inability to corroborate witness accounts.
During the investigation, IBAC found systemic corruption vulnerabilities within the public body’s licensing team including:
- A number of current and former employees of the public body’s licencing team engaged in significant gambling, and at least two of those employees had incurred substantial debts.
- There were inappropriate relationships between some employees of the public body’s licencing team and members of the service industry regulated by the public body.
- There was a failure to proactively conduct regular probity checks on service provider licensees.
IBAC made recommendations to the Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR) to assist in strengthening the public body’s corruption prevention systems.