Two sisters working for the federal police engaged in corrupt conduct by improperly dealing with internal information that wound up in the hands of a criminal associate, an investigation has found.
The younger sister was working as a librarian in 2016 when she was granted access to the AFP’s case management system and began accessing hundreds of files outside of her remit.
In a recorded phone call months later to her sister, who worked as an admin officer and occasional executive assistant, the librarian relayed that her sister’s associate — Mr A — had unexplained wealth and a criminal associate of his — Mr B — was suspected of committing an aggravated robbery.
The sisters then discussed ways to persuade Mr A to break ties again with Mr B, in light of the seriousness of the situation as they perceived it.
Before the call ended, the older sister admitted she’d been checking the system ever since her younger sister had first tipped her off about information concerning Mr B.
Telephone communications between Mr A and Mr B reduced markedly about the time the younger sister first accessed the record on Mr B in September 2016.
The younger sister was later searched, revealing a note on her phone stating “Financial through unknown means, know. Associate — suspected aggravated rob cash … aug 2016”.
The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, which investigated the sisters, found the librarian engaged in conduct involving abuse of office.
It also found the older sister engaged in conduct “involving, or for the purposes of, corruption of any other kind”.
ACLEI boss Jaala Hinchcliffe said the older sister disclosed AFP information to Mr A, monitored the database and sought AFP information from her younger sister — all with the intent of benefiting herself by deterring Mr A from associating with Mr B, and to protect her reputation and employment with the AFP.
“Although initially accessed out of curiosity, the primary reason for (the younger sister’s) conduct was to identify concerns with Mr A and his associates and benefit (the older sister) by tipping her off about issues relevant to someone she was associated with,” Ms Hinchcliffe said in her report released on Wednesday.
According to the report, both sisters resigned in 2018.
The younger sister was convicted of improperly disclosing information in 2019 after pleading guilty.
Federal prosecutors declined to charge the older sister with an offence.
Ms Hinchcliffe said the case highlighted the importance of organisational messaging and culture, having occurred as part of a broader pattern of extensive “browsing” of the restricted system.