Watchdog launches investigation into CFMEU credit card use
A Federal Government watchdog has launched an official investigation into claims aired 14 months ago that CFMEU officials were misusing corporate credit cards.
An independent auditor first raised questions in his October 2016 report over the use of credit cards by union executives in the Queensland branch of the CFMEU mining division.
And credit card details obtained by News Queensland around January 2017 showed union boss Stephen Smyth, who lives in Mackay, had racked up thousands of dollars on his corporate credit card on charges including fancy restaurants in Las Vegas and Whitsundays cruises.
At the time the CFMEU firmly defended Mr Smyth's expenses claims, saying amounts had been paid back in accordance with the union's policy.
The Registered Organisations Commission this week confirmed it is investigating matters from within an auditor's report for the financial year ending June 30, 2016, "related to credit card expenditure and potential loans provided to branch officials".
The commission started a preliminary investigation in October last year but the change of status from 'preliminary' to 'investigation' on Wednesday will give the watchdog a raft of new coercive powers that include forcing people to give evidence under oath and demand documents from the CFMEU.
The watchdog would not comment further "as it remains an open investigation" however according to its website the probe is into the financials of the Mining and Energy Division Queensland Branch of the union.
Branch president Mr Smyth responded to an interview request about the investigation with a text message: "The union is voluntarily co-operating with the ROC investigation and will respond to the request for information within the time frame".
News Corp journalist Des Houghton wrote in January 2017, that Queensland mining union boss Mr Smyth racked up thousands of dollars on his corporate credit card on charges.
Mr Smyth, who lives in Mackay and whose office is based here, even paid dentist, plumbing and butcher shop bills with his union MasterCard.
At the time the CFMEU defended Mr Smyth's expenses claims, stating most were incurred at Mackay businesses including Porters, Bunnings, Fresco's Quality Meats, Angelo's on the Marina and Sorbellos.
CFMEU Mining and Energy division Queensland senior vice president Mitch Hughes also said the amounts had been paid back from deduction of wages in the next week's pay cycle, in line with policy.