State Trustees CEO terminated for serious misconduct

STATEMENT FROM STATE TRUSTEES: State Trustees CEO terminated for serious misconduct

The Board of State Trustees Limited has terminated the employment of its Chief Executive Officer for serious misconduct, following an investigation into allegations that he had misused public funds.

Mr Craig Dent was stood down pending an investigation in February this year.

The investigation into allegations of misuse of public funds was conducted by an independent, forensic accounting firm, RSM Australia.

RSM Australia investigated seven serious allegations and found them all to be substantiated.

State Trustees Chair, Professor the Hon Jennifer Acton, said the Board of State Trustees had today unanimously voted to terminate Mr Dent’s employment for serious misconduct after a rigorous, independent investigation substantiated all seven allegations.

“This was not a decision taken lightly. However, the investigation made conclusive findings which compelled us to take this action,” Professor Acton said.

“We are extremely disappointed that this misuse of public funds has occurred.

“However, we can assure our clients that no private funds were involved and no client has been or will be impacted.

“We have immediately set to work to restore trust in the organisation.

“We have briefed an external recruitment agency for the recruitment of a new CEO.

“We will review our purchasing policies to ensure they align with best practice and that our staff are fully empowered and aware of their rights to call out improper conduct at any time.”

State Trustees will now refer the matter to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission for investigation.

The allegations made against Mr Dent and substantiated by independent investigators, RSM Australia, were that he:

  1. misused State Trustees funds to arrange for the writing and publication of the book, “The Creation of Trust”;
  2. improperly claimed credit for authoring the book, “The Creation of Trust”, and in doing so, failed to declare a conflict of interest and preferred his own personal interests to those of State Trustees;
  3. improperly claimed copyright to the book, “The Creation of Trust”, and in doing so, failed to declare a conflict of interest and preferred his own personal interests to those of State Trustees;
  4. improperly authorised the expenditure of State Trustees’ funds in relation to a function at Parliament House in Melbourne to launch the book, “The Creation of Trust”, and in the process, failed to declare a conflict of interest and preferred his own personal interest to that of State Trustees;
  5. misused State Trustees funds in relation to his private use of two Holden Calais motor vehicles. In doing so, Mr Dent conferred upon himself a private benefit not provided for by his employment contract, which had the effect of:
    1. exposing State Trustees to a breach of the Government Sector Executive Remuneration Panel (GSERP) guidelines and policy applicable to State Trustees, by increasing the value of Mr Dent’s Remuneration Package without authorisation; and
    2. exposing State Trustees to Fringe Benefits Tax liability in respect of Mr Dent’s private use of the Holden Calais vehicles;
  6. directed and/or required his Executive Assistant to enter into contracts on behalf of State Trustees, or otherwise approve payments by State Trustees when she had no authority to do so, including under the State Trustees Delegation Policy; and
  7. deliberately misled and/or withheld relevant information from the Board Chair.

The investigation found that Mr Dent, through his undeclared and unmanaged conflict of interest and self-interest, was in breach of various State Trustees and Victorian public sector policies and codes of conduct applying to his employment as CEO of State Trustees.

Ends.