WA bureaucrat faces fresh corruption claim

Michael Ramsey
·2-min read

Disgraced West Australian bureaucrat Paul Whyte diverted taxpayer money allocated to a state government temporary workers' accommodation project to purchase a luxury home, WA's Corruption and Crime Commission alleges.

Former housing department executive Whyte has pleaded guilty to 546 corruption charges in relation to a $22 million public sector rort.

The 57-year-old is also facing money laundering charges to which he is yet to enter a plea.

The CCC on Tuesday launched a round of public hearings into fresh allegations of corruption against Whyte which are unrelated to his charges.

Whyte, who is in prison awaiting sentencing, is accused of misappropriating funds allocated under the Royalties for Regions program to the Hamilton Fly Camp project in South Hedland, in the state's Pilbara region, in 2012 and 2013.

"The material available to the commission indicates Mr Whyte manipulated procurement processes for his own benefit," acting commissioner Scott Ellis said.

"The proceeds ended up paying for a very nice house in Mosman Park."

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Nadia Pantano, said Whyte had acquired the Mosman Park property in 2012 for $2.9 million.

She said almost $6.3 million had been paid out to contractors for the Hamilton Fly Camp but the project had "barely got off the ground".

In evidence to the inquiry, Whyte's partner Christine Seiver confirmed the Mosman Park property had been purchased under her name.

She said she "just went along with it" but assumed it would be under both of their names.

"I was in a financially abusive relationship and it culminated in a massive financial affair of obscene proportions," she said.

The inquiry heard Ms Seiver had sent an email in 2012 asking if the settlement papers could be re-signed so Whyte's name was not included as a witness, explaining that he did not want his name listed because of his government housing role.

When she asked Whyte where the money was coming from, he said "it's a personal loan, don't worry, I'm sorting it" - an explanation she accepted.

Ms Seiver said she had not held joint bank accounts with Whyte during their more than 20 years together.

"He basically took care of all the finances, and in the early days I was very busy raising kids," she said.

"I would certainly challenge things or conversations would come up but essentially everything was always very separate, I guess to avoid tension and confrontation and keep the peace."

Mr Ellis said the week-long inquiry would hear from a number of witnesses but there was no suggestion all were suspected of corrupt behaviour.