Irregularities investigated

June 20, 2017

A authorised officer spent a week at Yorta Yorta Nations Aboriginal Corporation Welsford Street premises last year.

The Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation was investigated by an Federal Government statutory office last year following a number of member complaints.

The Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations authorised an officer, Alan Conway, to spend a week examining the books at the Yorta Yorta corporation’s Welsford St office in August last year.

A subsequent report found there were financial and other irregularities at the corporation.

The report, provided anonymously to The News, stated a former corporation chief executive had entered into property transactions totalling $2.4 million, without the consent of the board.

All names had been blanked out in the report.

The report stated that ‘‘the transactions were not consistent with the usual or day-to-day business of the corporation (and) the transactions would not be within the usual or implied authority of a CEO’’.

‘‘(The chief executive) may have exceeded his financial delegation and (I) found no evidence that he had sought approval from the directors of the corporation before entering into the transaction,’’ the report stated.

On March 12, 2015, a property known by the corporation as ‘‘Shepherds’’ was bought for $550000.

The report stated no approval for the chief executive to enter into the agreement was found in the minutes of directors’ meetings.

On June 10, 2015, a property known by the corporation as ‘‘Bluegum’’ was bought for $1.35million, while a valuation report just four months later valued it at $475000.

The report said a valuer stated the ‘‘sale price was highly elevated’’ and the ‘‘contract appears to be a private treaty with no agent involved’’.

The authorised officer also found the corporation had traded at a loss for the past two financial years and its financial position had been impacted due to loans the former chief executive entered into.

‘‘The corporation recorded losses of $665961 for the year ended June 30, 2015, and $293438 for the year ended June 30, 2017,’’ the report read.

‘‘The long-term viability of the corporation may depend on debt forgiveness by Westpac (as) demand for payment is accruing at a rate of $84000 a year (interest at 12 per cent).’’

Since the conclusion of the review, the registrar has been working with corporation staff to address matters identified in the examination.

On February 26, the corporation had its annual meeting and six of the current seven directors were appointed, with members passing a resolution to sell the properties ‘‘Bluegum’’ and ‘‘Shepherds’’.

The News contacted the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, but it did not respond to questions.

The Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations’ Anthony Beven said the Yorta Yorta organisation was working co-operatively to address issues raised in the compliance notice.

‘‘The notice sets out various timeframes for the corporation to comply with various aspects of the notice ... (and) the corporation has met all timeframes to date,’’ he said.

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