Former Qld public servant ‘double dipped’ on $122k redundancy

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Former Qld public servant ‘double dipped’ on $122k redundancy

A former Queensland public servant is waiting to be sentenced after being found guilty of double dipping on a second redundancy payout.

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A former Queensland public servant is waiting to be sentenced after being found guilty of double dipping on a second redundancy payout.

The man, Phillip Sharpe, was found guilty this week of fraudulently claiming $55,373.32 for 17.8234 years of service in a voluntary retirement payment when he was only entitled to 3.605 years of service.

The prosecution had told the Brisbane District Court that Sharpe was employed by Queensland Rail National for 14 years when he took his first voluntary redundancy on 2 October 2005.

Prosecutor Ron Swanwick said Sharpe started a new job with the Department of Emergency Services as an industrial relations officer and was employed at AO6 level in January, 2006 after leaving Queensland Rail.

Promoted
 
He said Sharp had a ‘meteoric rise’ and was promoted to an AO8 level position as a principal strategy officer in May 2006 before he took on a SO2 role as a senior officer in February 2007.

He said Sharp claimed a second redundancy payout worth $121,963.71 three years after the first, when he was a Director of Human Resources at the Department of Emergency Services on 15 October 2009.

Swanwick said Sharp wrongly listed the length of his service with the Queensland Government as having spanned 17 years, instead of the three years he was entitled to since taking his first voluntary redundancy.

He said the fraud was detected and Sharp was issued with a notice to appear by police on 26 October.

The court learned Sharp repaid the amount he’d wrongly claimed to the Department of Community Safety in full on 14 November 2011.

Breach of trust
 
Swanwick said Sharp’s offending was a breach of trust made worse because he was in a very senior position.

‘It was a single incident but it was a big one by a senior officer of the public service,’ he said.
 
‘He was, at the time, a director.’

Defence barrister Steve Zillman said Sharp had taken advantage of an error made by the Department of Emergency Safety in calculating his severance package.

‘What he did was to take advantage of that error made by the department,’ he said.

‘It was not an abuse of his position where he had the ability to cover-up or fudge figures or take monies covertly.’

‘This was a one-off instance of fraud.’

Conflict of interest
 
Sharpe’s sentencing was delayed when Justice Tony Rafter revealed that his wife was the executive director of ethical standards at the Department of Community Safety, who was responsible for referring the fraud committed by Sharp to police.

The sentencing was earlier on Tuesday morning passed on to Justice Rafter by District Court Judge David Reid, who would not hear the matter on account of a similar conflict of interest, and passed up by Justice Julie Ryrie under unknown circumstances.

Before the sentencing began, Justice Rafter placed on the record his wife worked in the ministerial and executive services area of the Department of Community Safety, and both counsel agreed the matter could go ahead.
 
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