Melbourne, May 28 : An Australian city planner's sexual relationship and gifts worth thousands from a developer has landed her in trouble, with the anti-corruption body dubbing it a 'serious corrupt conduct'.
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has accused Wollongong City Council planner Beth Morgan breaching the code of conduct by developing a sexual relationship with developer Frank Vellar for a dodgy 100 million dollars planning consent.
In a report submitted to the NSW parliament, the ICAC said the development was proposed by a company controlled by Mr Vellar and was far larger than any comparable development in Wollongong.
The application for consent was assessed and approved by Ms Morgan, who had an undisclosed sexual relationship with Vellar at the time.
"As part of a concerted plan with Mr Vellar, Ms Morgan arranged for the Quattro DA (development application) to be determined under delegated authority, when it should have been reported to the council, and then deliberately failed to undertake any genuine assessment of it against the applicable development standards and controls because she knew that it grossly exceeded them and should not have been approved," News.com.au quoted Commissioner Jerold Cripps, as saying.
"Her conduct amounted to a wilful abuse of her position for the personal benefit of herself and Mr Vellar."
The report also said that Morgan began a sexual relationship with Vellar in May that year, and began to receive gifts and benefits from him that amounted to thousands of dollars in cash, holidays, meals, home building materials and home appliances.
Following the allegations Wollongong City Council began proceedings in the Land and Environment Court to revoke the planning consent and have it declared void. The ICAC found that Morgan's conduct involved the dishonest exercise of her official functions, a breach of public trust, official misconduct and matters of a similar nature to bribery.
"Ms Morgan's conduct could constitute (within the meaning of section nine of the ICAC Act) the criminal offences of misconduct in public office, conspiring to commit misconduct in office and corruptly receiving benefits contrary to the Crimes Act," said the report.
"All of the aforementioned criminal offences are punishable by imprisonment for more than five years," it added.