The head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has taken the unusual step of publicly defending the commission’s work after a parliamentary inquiry was launched into the NSW watchdog.
A NSW parliamentary committee announced on Thursday an inquiry into prosecutions arising from ICAC investigations.
In a rare move, ICAC’s commissioner Megan Latham responded to the “incorrect public perception” that may have been created about prosecutions resulting from ICAC probes.
She said ICAC did not conduct prosecutions but referred matters to the DPP for consideration for prosecution.
“A public perception may have developed that prosecutions are unlikely to result from ICAC investigations and that significant sentences are unlikely to be imposed if prosecutions do result,” she said in a statement on Friday.
Disgraced former MP Eddie Obeid recently claimed there was a one per cent chance of him facing prosecution after ICAC found he acted corruptly while in public office.
Ms Latham said there were currently 22 people before the courts as a result of ICAC referrals to the DPP.
“In the last 30 months … 32 people have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of charges arising from ICAC investigations,” she said.
Of those 32 people, four were sentenced to full-time jail and five served with home detention orders, she added.
Ms Latham said the commission intended to make information about prosecutions more accessible on its website to deal with public perception.
The parliamentary committee on the ICAC will look at the effectiveness of ICAC and DPP processes, and whether gathering evidence that can be used to prosecute a person should be an ICAC core function.
The committee, headed by former Attorney-General Greg Smith, will also examine if there is a need to create new offences for corrupt conduct.
The closing date for submissions to the committee is August 1.