Charity paid for gifts and diamonds: ICAC

Andrew Leeson

A former Australian of the Year state finalist claims she was too busy to realise her now defunct Sydney charity was footing the bill for her own personal expenses including a $20,000 diamond necklace.

Eman Sharobeem on Thursday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption she also used money from the Immigrant Women's Health Service to pay for gifts worth $12,500 for guests and politicians.

She said she purchased gifts for NSW ministers Victor Dominello and Pru Goward and federal ministers Michaelia Cash, Marise Payne and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

All have denied receiving gifts with the exception for Ms Goward who says they were of a "token kind" and below the disclosure threshold.

Sharobeem is accused of rorting more than half a million dollars while she was in charge of two publicly funded health services in Sydney to pay for personal holidays, jewellery and luxury goods.

Any jewellery receipts charged to the Immigrant Women's Health service were part of normal business and any personal expenses approved were accidental, she said on Thursday.

Acting commissioner Reginald Blanch asked Sharobeem why she hadn't noticed large amounts of money being transferred into here accounts.

"Did you ever stop to think why all this money was going into your accounts?" he said.

Sharobeem replied: "I didn't check my bank accounts enough to notice that."

"I was consumed helping people," she added.

Sharobeem was often visibly upset during questioning and said the inquiry had the wrong person.

"Who do you think I am, a rich person? I can't even pay my lawyers."

Sharobeem was shown several receipts that had been filed as expenses with the charity.

Counsel assisting ICAC, Ramesh Rajalingam, said charity funds were used to pay for an 18-carat gold diamond necklace and diamond studs earrings worth $20,000, botox treatments worth around $1700 and an engagement ring for her son.

Sharobeem denied she'd deliberately filed the personal expenses and corrected the commission by noting she'd had "fills" not botox.

She denied she'd be stupid enough to leave a trail connecting her to the alleged fraud.

"Would I be that stupid to leave it like that?" Sharobeem told the inquiry.

She said she would simply empty her bag onto her desk and rely on her assistant to sort out which expenses were personal and which were for the charity.

At one point Sharobeem became frustrated with questions and refused to answer until she was allowed to tell her "story".

After detailing why she had bought a $7000 massage chair for a women's charity, Mr Blanch explained she was being questioned to find out why the charity had paid this money, not necessarily because she was guilty.

"It may be because of incompetence, it may be because of some ulterior motive - as you have suggested - or it may be because you did it," he said.