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IT contractor scammed $523,000 from NSW DFSI

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 18 January, 2019

IT contractor scammed $523,000 from NSW DFSI

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that a former IT project manager with the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation engaged in “serious corrupt conduct” by milking over $500,000 from the department over a five-month period.

According to a report from the commission, the project manager, Steven Prestage, dishonestly leveraged his position as a public official for undue profit.

Prestage was found to have arranged for a company he had effectively taken control over to be paid $569,800 for system development work on the department’s Clarity project.

The company, Petite Software Systems, was owned by a friend of Prestage. But the company never performed any work for the department, and its owner claimed to have had no knowledge that Prestage had been using the name of the company to obtain financial benefit.

Prestage was able to convince the department to award the work to Petite Software Systems, but had established a separate company named Petite Solutions to take control of the funds, ostensibly on behalf of Petite Software Systems, the report states.

But instead, Prestage reportedly paid a small part of the sum to a number of contractors and used the balance of $523,450 to pay off his mortgage and meet other expenses. Prestage was also paid $101,980 for his services as project manager during his 12-month contracting period.

The report recommends that prosecutors consider charging Prestage with a number of criminal offences.

In light of the findings, it also makes 15 recommendations for modifying processes to prevent a repeat occurrence, including recommendations that the department develop mechanisms to provide stricter background checks commensurate with the level of risk of the hire and verify that all new suppliers are subject to robust due diligence processes.

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