• Woman under investigation for lost funds. (AAP)Source: AAP
A representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people at the centre of the controversial Adani Carmichael Mine go-ahead is to be investigated by Australia's corporate watchdog over her administration of a trust fund supposed to hold income from W&J mining interests.
NITV Staff Writer

21 Dec 2018 - 3:13 PM  UPDATED 21 Dec 2018 - 3:30 PM

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will investigate a representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people over money missing from a failed million-dollar trust fund set up to hold income from mining interests. 

An administrator of the fund has requested the corporate watchdog look at whether W&J representative Irene Simpson committed any offences while she was executive director of Cato Galilee, the trustee company that oversaw the charitable trust prior to it going into administration.  

The administrator last month found that Ms Simpson allowed the trust to continue trading while it was insolvent, potentially in breach of her responsibilities under the Corporations Act. The administrator, Christopher Baskerville, has now been appointed as liquidator to recover the debts incurred. 

"I intend to report the above [possible] offences to ASIC shortly," Mr Baskerville of Jirsch Sutherland, said in a report to creditors.

The report by Mr Baskerville found Cato was in debts since February, closing bank accounts where 'the director (Ms Simpson) should have been aware that the company was unable to pay its debts as and when they fall due', the report stated.

In July, Ms Simpson wrote a statement to the Federal Court claiming the company had enough funds to pay all debts and would do so by the due dates.

That assurance came after a former director of the company and shareholder, Adrian Burragubba, pressed to access the trust's financial records. 

The accounting firm, TO Corporate Interface, was approached by Mr Burragubba to analyse Cato Galilee's financial records, where the investigation found that the trustee had a reported income of $650,000 since 2014, mainly in native title mining payments, the ABC reported. 

ABC further reports the same investigation found the trust is owed an additional $275,000 equity in a property in Clermont it received from Rio. 

TO Corporate Interface has since reported that an official investigation be conducted to determine if the assets have been used for personal gain. 

The report found a number of transactions without appropriate supporting evidence, including $30,000 listed as "family and community expenses"; $62,000 in payments labeled under "dental" and "supermarkets and takeaway food stores [and] Kmart and Big W". 

The ABC reports Cato Galilee paid Ms Simpson wages totalling $109,000, as well as payments for W&J representatives to attend meetings with the Adani mining company.

Ms Simpson has worked for Adani's Indigenous engagement team since October 2017.

Before that, Ms Simpson publicly advocated for a deal with the miner, and was among the seven of 12 W&J representatives who swung support for the controversial Carmichael Mine in favour of the Indian mining giant.

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