The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) has tabled an interim report for its inquiry into procurement at Services Australia and the NDIA which were connected with consulting firm Synergy 360.
The report recommends that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) examine the evidence gathered by the Committee to date to determine whether to conduct a fuller investigation to establish the substance of the serious allegations made in relation to former Minister Stuart Robert and Synergy 360.
Committee Chair Julian Hill MP said “A referral to the NACC should never be made lightly and is not done so here. There appears to be no other appropriate course of action however in light of the serious and systemic nature of the allegations raised.
“The Committee has established a number of matters but is unable, given its resources, lack of forensic accounting expertise, and the refusal so far of key witnesses to provide documents or fully answer questions, to make clear findings as to the truth. An agency with compulsory questioning, document gathering, and investigatory powers may be able to properly assess these matters.
“Throughout this inquiry the Committee has sought to always act in the public interest. The inquiry is ongoing, and a final report will be tabled as soon as possible.”
Concerning reports were received of alleged financial impropriety, improper relationships and undisclosed conflicts of interest with parties receiving contracts from the Commonwealth.
Rebutting these allegations, Mr Robert, his longtime friend, business partner and political fundraiser Mr John Margerison, Synergy 360 principal Mr David Milo and others strongly deny improper conduct, hence the evidence before the inquiry is directly conflicting.
The Committee has also recommended that the Speaker authorise the commissioning of legal advice regarding the nature of the Committee’s statutory powers under sections 13 – 15 of its legislation, including situations where a person claims to be resident overseas.
Further information is available on the inquiry website.