Wednesday, 20 May 2015

IBAC ( Vin Virtue gives evidence)

A former Melbourne school principal with 40 years' experience signed off on numerous invoices he knew were false, an anti-corruption hearing is told.The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is currently investigating corrupt spending within the department. Vin Virtue was a former principal at two schools in the eastern suburbs. Norwood Secondary College and Parkwood Secondary College were so-called "banker schools" which distributed funds to other needy schools. Mr Virtue gave evidence that he signed off on numerous invoices that he knew were false, but told the commission he did not know the money was directed to companies owned by members of Nino Napoli's family. (Vin Virtue was a Kennet appointed Regional Director in the 90s for the Central Highlands Region. He was demoted when the Bracks Government came to power.)

Mr Napoli was sacked from the department in April after IBAC revealed his role in allegedly setting up the banker schools which siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars. The commission was shown three invoices for a training video with the same invoice number, the same date, but three different amounts - totalling more than $20,000 - that were paid through Mr Virtue's school, despite the fact the work was not done for his school. Mr Virtue testified that while the invoices were made out to Norwood Secondary College he understood he was making payments on behalf of other schools. He believed the authority came from head office and that head office staff were responsible for ensuring the work paid for was done. "I understand ... processes in town [head office] allowed for payments to be authorised ... and people in town were checking," he told the hearing. "These were transactional issues. "But counsel assisting the commission, Ian Hill QC, challenged Mr Virtue's actions. "This is hardly at the level of acceptability that the public would demand of a principal," Mr Hill said. "No, I don't believe that to be right. "Mr Virtue was asked about a conversation he had last year with Mr Napoli. In it, Mr Napoli told him about an investigation into a former deputy secretary of the department, Jeff Rosewarne, and expressed concern about the invoices that had been paid through Norwood Secondary School. "He [Nino Napoli] said 'there's trouble in town [head office]'," Mr Virtue told the commission. "I wasn't concerned. "Mr Rosewarne left the education department in 2011. The IBAC hearings have heard he allegedly used department funds for parties, lunches, travel and made other inappropriate claims.


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