The Integrity Commissioner and head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) Jaala Hinchcliffe has published her report on Operation Chandra.
Operation Chandra formed part of the Visa Integrity Task Force, established by ACLEI in 2017 to investigate allegations of corrupt conduct by staff members in the issuing of visas.
The investigation found two former Locally Engaged Employees at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia had engaged in corrupt conduct.
Officer K was found to have abused their office and engaged in corruption of any other kind by accessing visa records on thousands of occasions and disclosed information without a business need. Officer K indicated that she did so on a number of occasions to obtain a social benefit including potential business contacts and social capital.
The investigation also found that Officer K intentionally failed to declare conflicts of interest. This inhibited the ability of the agencies involved to manage the risks to the visa process raised by those conflicts.
Officer Z was found to have engaged in corruption of any other kind by accessing the records a colleague without a business need.
The Integrity Commissioner and head of ACLEI, Jaala Hinchcliffe said, “Through the Visa Integrity Task Force, ACLEI identified a range of corruption vulnerabilities and supported the Department of Home Affairs to introduce measures to strengthen the integrity of Australia’s visa processing arrangements.”
“This investigation highlights the importance of robust processes for declaring and managing conflicts of interest to ensure staff can effectively and impartially perform their duties.”
The Department of Home Affairs referred these matters to ACLEI in 2018. Officer K’s employment with the Australian Embassy Phnom Penh was terminated in 2019, following the investigation by ACLEI. Officer Z ceased employment with the Embassy in 2020.
About the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI)
ACLEI is committed to preventing and investigating corruption issues relating to Commonwealth law enforcement agencies. ACLEI supports the Integrity Commissioner to provide independent assurance to government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies and their staff members. The office of the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI are established by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006.