11. Fraud Investigations

In accordance with the CFCF, the department conducts its own investigations into suspected fraud against its programmes and services.

Internal Fraud is fraud committed by staff or contractors of the department against programme or non-programme areas.

External Fraud is fraud committed by persons external to the department including contractors, providers of goods and services, and recipients of Commonwealth benefits and funding.

All allegations of fraud on the department, whether internal or external, are assessed, and where appropriate, investigated with the aim of proving or disproving the allegations to the criminal standard of proof.

The department’s Fraud Integrity Assurance Team (FIAT) delivers criminal investigation services to the department and then provides feedback of the outcomes to the relevant Departmental programmes and the Assurance and Audit Committee. Where an investigation obtains sufficient evidence to meet the criminal standard of proof, the matter will be referred to the CDPP. The FIAT also seeks to identify weaknesses in risk controls or programme design issues which increase the exposure to risk.

The department’s People and Planning Branch is responsible for dealing with alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct. The FIAT and People and Planning Branch liaise where there is both alleged criminal and code of conduct breaches. Fraud investigations require proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, whereas breaches of the APS Code of Conduct are based on a civil standard of proof.

The department works closely with other Australian Government agencies responsible for fraud prevention and response to allegations of fraud.

11.1 The Role of the Australian Federal Police (AFP)

The AFP is the Commonwealth’s primary law enforcement agency and protects Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. The AFP is Australia’s international law enforcement and policing representative, and a chief source of advice to the Australian Government on law enforcement issues. The AFP is the lead agency in the investigation of serious or complex fraud against Australian Government programmes and systems. The department’s resources, information and expertise are shared with the AFP to assist in investigations where considered by the AFP. The FCO is responsible for identifying and referring matters to the AFP for its consideration in accordance with AFP protocols.

11.2 The role of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP)

The CDPP is an independent prosecution service established by the Parliament of Australia to prosecute criminal offences against the Commonwealth. The CDPP determines whether or not to commence prosecution action in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. The CDPP is also available to provide advice on questions of evidence and/or other legal issues that arise during an investigation.

Liaison between the department and the relevant offices of the CDPP is conducted in accordance with the principles identified in the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. Liaison with the CDPP is encouraged as it is an effective way for the department to ensure that a proposed course of action, in relation to a specific investigation, is resource effective and in the public interest to pursue.

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