An employee of Western Australia’s state-owned energy network operator falsified more than 200 inspections and submitted 53 fraudulent time sheets over a three-month period, a corruption probe has found.
A West Australian Crime and Corruption Commission investigation found the Western Power employee stayed at home when he should have been working, used his work vehicle for recreation and submitted fake photos of power pole inspections.
In some cases the employee even submitted the same photo as evidence of pole inspections at different locations.
The broader risks associated with minimal supervision, particularly of employees in regional locations … is a lesson for all agenciesWA Corruption and Crime Commission
An audit of work carried out by the employee between July and September 2019 found evidence of the fake inspections and falsified time sheets, as well as 51 instances of a work vehicle being misused.
Western Power was alerted to the situation by a whistle blower in August 2019 and has since sacked the employee.
“If not for the whistle blower reporting the matter, it is unknown how long the conduct would have continued,” the commission said.
In a report tabled in state parliament on Wednesday the Commission warns that the case should act as a warning for all agencies about the risk of minimal supervision of employees, particularly in regional areas.
“The maintenance of power pole assets by Western Power is an important and critical role,” the report says.
It warns that the consequences of not performing this function properly are “severe and could be fatal”, particularly during bushfires.
Western Power has since introduced new audit regimes for employees involved in power pole inspections, and has improved its ability to detect similar fraud in future, the repot says.
“The broader risks associated with minimal supervision, particularly of employees in regional locations, and the diligence that is expected of public sector agencies in timely and appropriate reporting of matters, is a lesson for all agencies,” it said.
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