A former staff member has been found guilty of defrauding USyd of $43,065, and has been sentenced to at least twelve months behind bars.
Brett Roberts was employed as an IT manager by the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, and the University of Newcastle. The Newcastle Herald reported that over an eight-year period, Roberts “caused or attempted to cause payments of false invoices” totalling over $100,000.
Roberts was found to be corrupt in 2015 after an investigation by Macquarie University. Itnews reported at the time that a 2013 internal inquiry at the university had “uncovered his misconduct, which the university handed over to ICAC”.
Roberts was sentenced last month to 14 months jail for “dishonestly obtaining a benefit by deception”, as well as 17 months jail for “giving false or misleading evidence to ICAC”. Both sentences come with a non-parole period of 12 months.
An IT consultancy company, Management and Professional Services Pty Ltd (MAPS), was run on behalf of Roberts by Christopher Killalea. Roberts used his positions at the universities to receive and pay invoices to MAPS for non-existent services.
Roberts told ICAC in 2015 that the pair had designed the scheme together, a claim which Killalea denied. ICAC also found Killalea to be corrupt, and he was sentenced with a five-year good behaviour bond and fined $4500.
While at the University of Sydney from 2009 to 2011, Roberts worked as a project manager on “its shift to shared services”. He certified the payment of nine invoices to MAPS in December 2010.
The scheme began at the University of Newcastle, where MAPS first received $27,750 in November 2006. Between 2012 and 2013, Roberts ramped up the invoices, beginning with $32,450 in December and $10,450 in January. In May, Robert submitted three invoices, each for $32,450. Not all invoices were paid, with The Sydney Morning Herald reporting the total fraud amounted to almost $114,000. The final three invoices raised a red flag at Macquarie University, who terminated Roberts’ employment and received a partial refunded.
“The inappropriate financial behaviour by Mr Roberts was picked up by the university’s own financial safeguards and systems,” Macquarie told the SMH in 2015. The investigation was referred to ICAC who held a three-day hearing into Roberts’ conduct.
Killalea told ICAC that he had acted out of “blind friendship” to Roberts. Killalea would later tip-off ICAC about Roberts’ behaviour.
Roberts has filed an appeal against the severity of the sentencing, which will be heard on 24 September.