Australia: Paul Whyte pleads guilty to corruption charges after $22 million public sector scandal
18 Jun 2020

The sacked public servant at the centre of one of Western Australia’s biggest corruption scandals has pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges relating to the theft of more than $22 million in taxpayers’ money.

Former Department of Communities senior bureaucrat Paul Ronald Whyte entered the pleas in writing because it would have taken hours for the magistrate to have taken pleas to each of the 530 charges verbally.

Whyte appeared in court via video link from Hakea prison where he has been since mid-December last year despite being granted bail of $1 million, something he had chosen not to take up.

He also faced a new charge today of laundering around $254,000, one his lawyer Michael Tudori said was a result of “lengthy interviews and statements” from his client.

But he did not enter a plea to that charge, with Mr Tudori telling the court there was a dispute about “the quantum” involved.

Whyte was first charged in November, along with an associate, with corruptly stealing $2.5 million, but the total increased massively after he gave a series of interviews to police.

Some of them were conducted from his hospital bed after he tried to take his life at his family’s Mosman Park home.

It was at his next court appearance that he was taken into custody.

Mr Tudori also said then that his client would eventually be pleading guilty.

Money stolen using fake invoice scheme

The offences were committed over an 11-year period , from 2008 to 2019, when Whyte was charged.

The money was stolen through a fake invoice scheme in which three shelf companies — iValuate, Boldline and Quadrant Analytics — were paid various amounts of money, including a total sum of $2.7 million in 2012.

Whyte approved the payment of the invoices and had bank cards that allowed him access to the companies’ bank accounts.

The crimes came to light when department staff identified payments to the companies, which did not have contracts attached.

Previous court hearings have heard the money was spent on personal expenses.

Whyte appeared in court in prison greens sporting a grey beard, and spoke only to confirm his name and his written guilty pleas.

His case has been adjourned until August.

He will eventually be sentenced in the District Court and is likely to face a substantial jail term, although the time he has already spent in custody will be taken into consideration.

By Joanna Menagh, ABC News, 17 June 2020

Read more at ABC News

Photo (edited): Michael Coghlan [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Flickr

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