The Federal Court in Perth has disqualified for seven years the former finance officer of Murchison Regional Aboriginal Corporation Abul Fazad Mohammed Abdus Shahid.
Mr Shahid was banned from managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations for seven years and ordered to pay the corporation compensation of $207,956.75, a pecuniary penalty to the Commonwealth of $100,000 and the proceedings’ costs.
A court registrar investigated Mr Shahid’s conduct during his tenure as finance officer between 1 July 2011 and 18 November 2014.
An investigation found that Mr Shahid had:
- Caused the corporation to pay him money that failed to advance the objects of the corporation and were not approved by its directors and members
- Treated the payments as unsecured interest-free loans repayable by 30 June of each financial year
- Failed to ensure that the payments were accurately and properly documented, and.
- Improperly documented the payments knowing that funding from the Department of Housing was to be discontinued.
Mr Shahid received 117 separate payments totalling $1,371,413.55.
The court found that Mr Shahid had contravened subsections 265-1 and 265-5 of the CATSI Act by failing to discharge his duty to act with care and diligence, in good faith and in the best interests of the corporation.
Mr Shahid was also found to have contravened subsection 265-10 of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act by improperly using his position to gain an advantage for himself and causing detriment to the corporation.
Delivering his judgment, Judge Michael Barker said: ‘It is important that all persons subject to the obligation imposed by the CATSI Act in the management and operation of Aboriginal corporations are fully aware of their responsibilities and are not under any misapprehension that the revenue, assets and property of the corporations are … at their private control.’
The former chief executive officer of Coolgaree Aboriginal Corporation Robert Bruce Beattie has been fined $3000 and issued with a reparation order of $3000 to the Commonwealth for dishonestly using his position to gain a personal financial advantage.
On 6 November 2014, Mr Beattie attended a charity event run on Magnetic Island in Queensland where he bid for and won tickets to the Clipsal 500 motorsport event being held in Adelaide in 2015.
Mr Beattie used the corporation’s credit card to buy the tickets, though the charity event and purchases were not linked to the corporation’s business and did not further its objectives.