Scrutiny Over Land Council Boss for Alleged Misuse of Funds

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Scrutiny Over Land Council Boss for Alleged Misuse of Funds

The National Indigenous Australians Agency has initiated an independent investigation into the Anindiliyakwa Land Council, which remains confidential and has not been made public yet. The spotlight is on Mark Hewitt, the chief executive of the land council, following allegations of misusing millions of dollars in mining royalties awarded to Winchelsea Mining from the ALC.

Mark Hewitt has come under fire for holding dual roles as the co-chief executive of Winchelsea Mining and the head of the Anindiliyakwa Land Council, raising concerns over potential conflicts of interest. The situation has escalated further with the NIAA referring Mr. Hewitt to the national anti-corruption commission, signaling potential legal implications over the alleged misuse of funds.

During a recent senate estimates session, it was revealed that Mr. Hewitt continued in his role with the land council despite being under review by the NIAA, prompting criticism from Independent senator David Pocock about the apparent conflict of interest. The review into the ALC's operations was initially expected to conclude in July, but delays have been cited, including the recent passing of the long-term chair of the ALC affecting the timeline for the release of the report.

The NIAA's Integrity Group manager, Sean Worth, has shed light on the circumstances leading to the investigation, mentioning that the agency had received concerns about the governance of the ALC, prompting the decision to commission the review. The referral of Mr. Hewitt to the anti-corruption commission underscores the seriousness with which the Commonwealth government approaches allegations of misconduct, without providing further details to maintain the integrity of any potential investigation.