Claims still unchecked

NINE months after the “appalling misuse” of reimbursements at Perth city council was exposed in an inquiry, expense claims are still not being fully scrutinised. 

A new internal audit of reimbursement “payment vouchers” has found some staff, and even a commissioner, aren’t providing adequate documentation to explain their purchases, though it didn’t suggest there had been rorting.

A recurring theme of the WA government inquiry into the council was councillors getting away with questionable claims because staff didn’t stand up to them or thoroughly check their supporting documents. 

Lavish dinners, a $400 sports outfit, family dry cleaning and $99.50 children’s shoes were among the claims by councillors.

The council’s internal audit sampled 40 recent vouchers and found five with inadequate documentation.

That included “two instances whereby no evidence of invitations to attend event/interstate meetings were sighted in relation to claims by a commissioner for reimbursement of taxi expenses”. 

Another 20 anomalies were spotted, including missing signatures or a lack of management approval.

The audit noted this could lead to an increasing risk of phoney payments.

Following the audit, accounts staff were reminded to reject any claims without appropriate documentation, while the whole voucher system will be reviewed. 

At the May 6 audit committee meeting, external member Robert Maurich said the findings were “concerning”.

“There’s a large amount that is currently used for these payment vouchers – $1.8million [per year] – and there’s a certain degree of noncompliance there in terms of use of those vouchers,” he said.

by DAVID BELL

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