The Victorian Liberal Party is being investigated after a forensic audit uncovered the loss of $2 million worth of party funds. At the centre is a former Director of The Tasmanian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia; who became State Director of the Liberal Party in Victoria. ABC 7.30 reported that Mantach had been required to pay back more than $30,000 when he left as director of the Tasmanian Libs …
The Liberal Party was on Thursday morning preparing to release a statement confirming the findings of an investigation will be handed to Victoria Police.
It is believed party officials are in an emergency meeting.
Former state director Damien Mantachhas reportedly been questioned by the party over financial irregularities stretching back over four years.
The initial investigation, undertaken by accounting firm PPB Advisory, uncovered the fraudulent invoices, including potentially some made out to a non-existent company, the Herald Sun reported.
State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the party was furious, calling it a “pretty basic effort of embezzlement”.
• ABC: Victorian Liberal Party accuses former state director of stealing more than $1m in campaign funds The Victorian Liberal Party has accused its former state director Damien Mantach of embezzling more than $1 million of election campaign funds. Discrepancies were uncovered during a forensic audit of the party’s finances after its November 2014 state election loss. The party alleged Mr Mantach took about $1.5 million over four years and used the money on “lifestyle” spending. Liberal leader Matthew Guy said the party would ask Victoria Police to investigate. “The party is furious, we want our money back,” he said. “We will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done.” Mr Guy said MPs felt betrayed and branch members were gutted the money they had raised, which might have made a difference to the party’s election campaign, was gone. “A lot of people do a lot of work to get us on a war footing in an election, that involves raising a lot of money,” Mr Guy said. “When someone allegedly thieves a lot of money from you, it leaves you pretty cold.” Former premier Denis Napthine, who was the party’s leader during last year’s campaign, said he was surprised and bitterly disappointed by the allegations. Party president Michael Kroger said those in the party monitoring spending had failed.
• Download The Herald-Sun report …
From The Australian …
One of the Liberal Party’s most senior backroom figures has been accused of the theft of up to $2 million of campaign funds in a serious and embarrassing setback for Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s bid to hold on to key Victorian seats at the next federal election.
Victoria Police will be called in Thursday to investigate the alleged disappearance of the money after suspicions were raised by Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger.
The party’s administrative committee is set to meet this morning to discuss how to deal with the missing money, which was to be used on the upcoming federal campaign.
The Australian understands that the figure accused of being behind the fraud has admitted to the scam.
The party is believed to have isolated the scandal to one person but the fallout from the missing money will rock the entire organisation.
The person suspected of the theft is a high-profile figure who is accused of making out bogus invoices and of having funnelled funds back to his family interests.
The scam has been investigated by the party and accountants for several weeks and comes after Mr Kroger questioned how party money had been used during the state election campaign in November.
“It is shocking for everyone; it’s unbelievable that this has happened. It will rock the foundations of the party,’’ a senior Liberal said last night.
“There will be no winners.”
It is believed Mr Kroger’s intervention initially was seen internally as a factional play by the party president but that his suspicions about missing money were realised once the party’s books were opened up.
Senior sources said there was no suggestion of systemic wrongdoing by multiple people, with the offending allegedly confined to one backroom figure.
The person involved has not been directly associated with the party for many months.
The missing money comes as the party prepares to deal with what went wrong in the 2014 state election campaign, with an exhaustive review being conducted into the one-term election failure.
The party recently elevated Simon Frost to the state director’s position and he has played a key behind-the-scenes role in rooting out the alleged corruption in the party.
A LITTLE HISTORY …
• SMH 2013: Abbott backs Vic campaigner despite tape scandal … However, Mr Abbott said Mr Mantach had his support. ”I know Damien Mantach well. He is a person of integrity, so let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.” …
MEANWHILE elsewhere …
• brisbanetimes: LNP ‘secret’ donations may be seized by state The Electoral Commission of Queensland is seeking crown law advice over the $100,000 in “secret” donations the LNP (Liberal National Party) can not give names for, with the possibility the state may seize the funds. On Wednesday, LNP President Bruce McIver said the issue was a “distraction technique” and said the ECQ had “accepted that it has not been possible to provide some names”, but the party had made “every effort” to comply with the changes in the declaration laws.
• Peter in Comments: ‘As Liberal people sometimes remind us, if a political party can’t get its own house in order, how can it be trusted to manage the nation’s money?’
• Cassy O’Connor: Criminal Code Amendment (Misconduct in Public Office) Bill Tabled Both the old parties will be given the opportunity in Parliament to bring Tasmania into line with the rest of the country and ensure the highest possible standards of ethical, lawful conduct in public office. Tabled today, the Criminal Code Amendment (Misconduct in Public Office) Bill 2015 addresses serious concerns raised repeatedly by the Integrity Commission. Tasmania is the only jurisdiction not to have this offence in its criminal code or common law. This is unacceptable and can’t be justified. The Greens’ Bill would give the Integrity Commission the teeth it needs to do its job. Tasmanians deserve to know that those who hold public office are held to the highest standard and are not immune from the law. We hope the Government and the Opposition act in the public interest and support our Amendment Bill when we bring it on for debate next month.
FRIDAY, August 21 …
The Tasmanian Liberals have assured members the party is not affected by allegations former state director Damien Mantach stole $1.5 million from the election fund of the Victorian Liberal Party.
The police fraud squad is investigating the allegations against Mr Mantach, who served as state director in both Tasmania and Victoria.
The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle in Victoria.
Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page used Facebook ( HERE ) to confirmed that Mr Mantach did owe the Tasmanian branch money in 2008.
“I have today been advised that Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” he said.
• John Hawkins in Comments: Did the Tasmanian Liberals not prosecute … because Mantach knew enough about Abetz, the Greens and the Exclusive Brethren to cause them all a great deal of grief? Mantach had to fess up in court over the connection between Libs and EB but Abetz – whose philosophy on life is also extreme right, in fact right of even Gungadin – never got a mention. I think this has legs especially as Abbott thinks Mantach is as pure and white and clean as driven snow. Did Abetz as the senior Tasmanian Liberal write Mantach a reference? I do hope so.
• Rupert’s Courier-Mail says that despite Mr Page’s assertions … things were far from settled: … On a bad day for Mr Mantach, his Liberal Party email address was found in the leaked database from cheaters website Ashley Madison, though there is no evidence he specifically signed up to the site. It can be revealed: MR Mantach had to repay $48,000 to the Tasmanian Liberal Party after a dispute over his use of his corporate credit card on private expenditure while state director. NO Victorian MP knew of the Tasmanian repayment, and senior officials who appointed him in Victoria say they had been told only that there was a minor credit card discrepancy. OPEN warfare erupted within the Victorian Liberal Party, as MPs sheeting home the blame for Mr Mantach’s appointment to Brian Loughnane, the federal director and husband of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin. …