Australian government agencies are reportedly plagued by company card fraud and misuse, according to new analysis from media company Fairfax Media. By certain accounts, some agencies are seeing more than $100,000 in misspend.
Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday (Oct. 12) said the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Bureau of Meteorology are among the worst-hit by company credit card fraud, with these groups having the highest rate of non-compliant credit card spending in 2016, researchers found.
Fairfax analysts found an array of instances in which government purchasing cards were used for personal use, including one that attempted to use a Weather Bureau card for a transaction surpassing $1,000, an Able Seaman who repaid nearly $2,350 after misusing a card and one employee at the Foreign Affairs department who was fired after spending more than $7,000 on the department’s credit card, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The ABS had 156 cases of inappropriate spend on its cards, Fairfax found, valuing more than $43,000 in misspend. But a spokesperson for the ABS told reporters that 82 of those transactions were made for legitimate business purposes, just not through approved travel suppliers. The remaining 74 transactions, the spokesperson added, were made for purchases not directly related to official ABS purposes.
Other government agencies that saw misspend on its cards include the health department, the immigration department and the department of defense, the Sydney Morning Herald reports said.
Fairfax’s data was published following earlier reports that the nation’s independent commissioner against corruption, Bruce Lander, was conducting dozens of separate investigations stemming from more than 2,000 complaints lodged over the span of two years regarding misuse of government purchasing cards. While Lander said there was no evidence of systemic corruption, he did estimate that up to 70 percent of the complaints issued failed to be followed up by officials.