Health officials 'stood aside'

QUEENSLAND Health director-general Dr Tony O'Connell has announced three senior bureaucrats have been stood aside as investigations continue into an alleged multi-million-dollar fraud.

It is alleged former Queensland Health employee Joel Barlow, 36, took $11 million while employed at the department's Brisbane headquarters.

On Monday Premier Anna Bligh announced that Queensland Health will be split into two departments.

In a statement, Dr O'Connell said the general manager of finance, the systems manager (finance solutions) in the finance branch and the manager of assessment in the Ethical Standards Unit were stood aside this morning.

"All three will remain on leave with pay until investigations are completed," Dr O'Connell said.

Although both the Police service and the Crime and Misconduct Commission said there was no evidence implicating any of the three in any criminal behaviour, Dr O'Connell said it was important they were stood aside.

"Clearly, there has been a failure of finance systems, and until the investigations are completed the people responsible for managing those systems cannot remain in charge," he said.

Arrangements have been made for the secondment of an official from the Queensland Treasury Corporation to manage duties in Finance Division while the investigations are under way.

 

Full Statement from Queensland Health's Director-General Dr Tony O'Connell:

I have today stood aside three senior Queensland Health officials.

The General Manager of Finance, the Systems Manager (Finance Solutions) in Finance Branch and the Manager of Assessments in the Ethical Standards Unit were this morning stood aside while investigations and systems reviews are completed by Queensland Police Service (QPS), Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC), Queensland Audit Office and independent reviewers.

All three will remain on leave with pay until investigations are completed.

Clearly, there has been a failure of finance systems, and until the investigations are completed the people responsible for managing those systems cannot remain in charge.

There are also very serious concerns about why the Ethical Standards Unit investigation into Mr Barlow last year did not uncover fraud he is alleged to have committed.

QPS and the CMC have advised there is no evidence to date which implicates any of these three individuals in criminal behaviour.

However, it is important that the people who were responsible for managing these systems are removed from their duties while investigations are completed.

I am arranging the secondment of an official from Queensland Treasury Corporation to take over management of these duties in Finance Division while these investigations are under way.

On Monday, I also implemented tighter controls over the payment of grant funding.

These measures were introduced after consulting all agencies undertaking investigations and review including the Office of the Auditor General.

Agencies involved in these investigations include the Auditor General, Queensland Police Service, the Crime and Misconduct Commission and a forensic accounting review led by KPMG and Clayton Utz.

Interim measures proposed were implemented on Monday.

Those included manual checks of all payments being made out of the community services branch of Finance Division, to be conducted by officers from other Divisions.

The new controls will remain in place until the QAO, KPMG and Clayton Utz can assess appropriate long term measures to improve our protection against fraud in Queensland Health.



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