Image by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au

Jacksonville investigator Peter Wicks takes us behind the scenes of the HSU to outline the people who apparently helped Kathy Jackson allegedly defraud the HSU of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

THE WEEK BEFORE LAST saw some substantial developments in the HSU saga — in Sydney relating to Michael Williamson and in Melbourne for Craig Thomson.

Michael Williamson was back before the court to face the music for his multiple charges relating to defrauding the NSW Branch of the Health Services Union of close to $1 million dollars.

A date for sentencing has been set for 3 March 2014.

This means that fraud squad detectives will have some time on their hands to look into other aspects of the case that have not yet seen charges laid.

People like Richard Hew will no doubt be sleeping with one eye and ear open between now and then. Maybe he should hand in his key to the HSU office and take off somewhere. Perhaps he could head off to the Fijian island resort owned by his fellow supplier Alf Downing who according to police delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks in paper bags to Cheryl McMillan, Michael Williamson's mistress. McMillan you may remember was the NSW HSU Procurement Manager and she certainly did an exceptional job at procuring paper bags.

Craig Thomson’s matter was also before the court again on the 23 October, although there was not a lot in the mainstream media about it.

You may recall that Fair Work Commission have requested to settle the civil case against Thomson via a court appointed mediator rather than have it heard in open court, certainly a sign that things are travelling better for Thomson than FWC.

The criminal case against Thomson, despite vast sums of taxpayer dollars being spent desperately searching for any evidence, still relies on the same evidence as the civil case. This matter also took a turn on the 23rd with the Magistrate telling the prosecution to go away and review their entire approach to the case. This is surely not a good sign for the prosecution, with the Magistrate even bringing the subject of costs into the equation.

It is becoming even clearer that the prosecution tactic is to drag matters out and hope that Thomson goes bankrupt and can no longer afford to fight. This is not justice in any way shape or form and the public deserves much better.

Thankfully, Magistrate Rozencwajg is having none of it and is keen to see things move along quickly and bring this matter to a rest.

While these two cases have been seeing progress, the investigations are continuing into the allegations against Kathy Jackson relating to the alleged defrauding of hundreds of thousands of dollars of Union members’ funds.

With that in mind I thought it was an appropriate time to take some advice from Kylie Minogue and step back in time to look at those who helped Kathy Jackson along the way, provided her with scapegoats and gave the green light to her sucking funds out of the Union like a five-year old sucking the last drops out of a thick shake with a straw.

Kathy Jackson became HSU Branch Secretary in 1996 and has long been supported by a faithful team of health professionals who make up the Branch Committee Of Management (BCOM). Prominent amongst this group are Kate Wilkinson, Jenny Dunlop, Reuben Dixon and Kathryn Whitfield, although there have been plenty of others along the way.

The BCOM is there to look after the interests of the Union members and to provide direction to the Secretary. Given this, the BCOM should be well and truly on top of Union finances and Union rules and governance matters as that is what they are there to advise the Secretary on.

However in Jackson's #3 Branch, this does not appear to be the case.

In 2009, Jackson received over $500,000 in salary payments, according to the auditors’ report. On top of this, the BCOM thought it was appropriate for her child care to be paid for by the Union members. Part of that cool half million was an honorarium payment of $21,000 per year. The minutes of a meeting below show the BCOM actually endorsing a lump sum payment to Jackson of $63,000 as an honorarium payment.

Number 3 Branch Minutes 23 March 2010

This honorarium payment is based on motions from an earlier meeting that the BCOM appear to have a clear $63k memory of, yet for which nobody has been able to find the minutes.

You may have also noticed in the minutes that the BCOM also deemed that Branch No.3, with around 4,000 members, should be paying the bills for branch No.1, which has more than 12,000 members. This is because the NAB refused to loan Branch 1 money because they were deemed too much of a risk. Branch No. 1 is, of course, the branch previously run by Jeff Jackson and at that time being run by Marco Bolano.

According to the Union rules, the branches should be run as financially autonomous bodies, although rules seem to be of little consequence to Jackson and her BCOM buddies.

I hope the current Branch 1 BCOM are now doing what they can to repay the Branch 3 members.

Kathy Jackson (far left) and Kaye Darveniza (2nd from right) are close friends and former colleagues — something The Australian failed to disclose.

Last week, I posted an open letter to the State Secretary Of The Victorian Labor Party, after one of Kathy Jacksons friends, Victorian MP Kaye Darveniza, decided to write an opinion piece for The Australian talking about the HSU and how the union movement needed an inquiry.

She neglected to mention her husband Rob Elliott and his ongoing legal battles with the union over his ridiculous contract, which a Federal Court Administrator said should not be paid.

It has been alleged that to receive Michael Williamson's signature on that contract, Jackson and her BCOM buddies refused to sign off on the Union’s merger to form HSU East until Williamson agreed to sign off on their friend, and Darveniza’s husband Rob Elliot's contract.

The BCOM were paid at least $41,400 in cash payments alone over one nine month period, some details can be found below and also on the HSU resource page. They were taken to expensive restaurants, such as Fenix with bills for as much as $14,000, they were given expensive gifts and one can only imagine what else.

Assorted BCOM Payments

However, when all is said and done, they were given the dregs while Jackson was bathing in Krug.

So without further ado, here are some of the key players and a little about them.

Kate Wilkinson (pictured above) until a couple of months ago was a radiation therapist, now she has set herself up as a consultant, no doubt hoping for some work at exorbitant rates should Kathy Jackson take control of the HSU Branches again. Wilkinson was senior Vice President of Jackson’s branch and her signature can also be found on many of the cheque requisitions for payments to Neranto #10 Pty Ltd, Jacksons company that she billed the union for while also picking up a union paycheck and numerous cheques made out to cash.

Jenny Dunlop (below) is a deputy chief medical imaging technologist. She has allegedly applied for the role of chief several times, but has failed at each attempt. Dunlop has been a BCOM member since 1992, so one would assume she knew the workings reasonably well. In 2010, after 18 years experience, she sent a job application to Michael Williamson that stated:

‘I am extremely impressed with the plan for the future of HSU East and professional conduct of the union, its aim for honesty and transparency and would be proud to be part of the new face of the HSU.’

 

Michael Williamson’s new face of the HSU, as we know, now sees him facing 30 years in jail for defrauding members of almost $1 million, with more charges expected to be laid. He awaits sentencing.

Another signature that can be found on many of the questionable cheques, requisitions and remittances is that of Kathryn Whitfield. Whitfield was branch president during Jackson’s reign as branch secretary and therefore must take a large amount of responsibility for what occurred under her watch. Whitfield is currently employed at Vic Health as a manager in the cancer services department. Whitfield, who went on a Paris trip with Jackson, is seemingly the faceless woman of the HSU as she is elusive and camera shy, it would seem.

Rueben Dixon (below) is a medical imaging technologist and was trustee the #3 Branch. As a trustee, Kathy Jackson’s alleged rorting of members falls on his shoulders, as he was trusted by the members to safeguard them from exactly the sort of behaviour at which Kathy Jackson appears to have excelled. Dixon quit the Union as soon as Jackson lost control of it at the last election and the Union was, at last, given a chance to rebuild. It seems after the Jackson gravy train left Branch 3, Dixon was desperate not to be left behind.

Jane Holt (below) was the financial controller of the #3 Branch after originally coming on as a consultant under the name Holt Bookkeeping and was in charge of the finances that Kathy Jackson seemed to consider her private piggy bank. In fact, as someone in charge of finances Holt seemed to have about as much control as a learner driver trying to steer a jack-knifed semi trailer down a steep mountain road covered in ice at 120km/hour. Jane is someone who I believe should be looked at closely, as all of Jackson’s wild spending occurred while she was supposed to have been holding the purse strings.

So how could she be so inept?

Well, maybe it was because she was the mysterious JR Discretionary account showing up on statements that many payments were made to?

Could it be something to do with the Union buying an apparently awfully large amount of wine from Holt’s winemaking firm, Berry’s Bridge Winery, from Union funds?

Whatever it was, she didn’t question child care payments; personal credit cards being direct debited from the Union cheque account; $63k honorarium payments to an already overpaid secretary who, according to the auditor, had more than 6 months off in one year of work; paying $5,000 more for a Volvo than invoiced by the dealer; paying $22,000 to an ex-employee living overseas who claims to have never received the money, with bank traces proving it went somewhere else; ski holidays paid for by HSU members worth more than $20,000; and the list goes on and on...

Whatever happened, she clearly left in a hurry, as she seems to have been paying some bills when she went. That would be the only way to explain all of the signed blank cheques that she left behind in the office.

The only difference that I can see between the crimes that Michael Williamson has pleaded guilty to and the allegations made and evidence shown against Kathy Jackson is that Jackson had the BCOM acting as apparent accessories to her actions. Jackson is quick to point out those who idly stood by and let Williamson defraud the union in NSW. In Victoria she appears to have enlisted help.

I can now reveal a leaked recording that was made in secret of the opening statements of one of these BCOM meetings. This recording may provide readers with an insight as to how the BCOM was operating at the time. The recording is linked below.

BCOM Meeting

Union members need to be able to trust that their Branch Committee Of Management are there to look after the needs of members and I have yet to see any evidence at all of this being the case. These people are there to take one for the team, unfortunately it would seem more like they are taking thousands from the team instead.

They may call it serving the members; I’d call it something more along the lines of aiding and abetting.

You can follow Peter Wicks on Twitter @madwixxy. Catch up on the full Jacksonville saga on our dedicated page.

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