Former Katungul CEO cops $1.2m penalty

IN A ground-breaking decision, the Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday ordered Damien Matcham, the former CEO of the Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Services, to pay over $1.2million in fines and compensation.

Mr Matcham was also banned from being involved in the management of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation for 15 years.

The proceedings in the Federal Court were brought by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Anthony Beven.

Justice Jacobson ordered Mr Matcham:

• pay compensation of $705,905.07 to Katungul;

• pay a pecuniary penalty of $500,000 to the Commonwealth;

• be disqualified from managing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation for a period of 15 years; and

• pay the Registrar’s legal costs in the matter.

In an earlier judgment, on September 11, 2013, Justice Jacobson found Mr Matcham had not exercised due care and diligence, had not acted in good faith in the best interests of Katungul, and had improperly used his position as the CEO of Katungul.

In handing down his decision on Wednesday, Justice Jacobson said, “The seriousness of Mr Matcham’s behaviour, the abuse of trust which it involved and the absence of any real contrition or appreciation of his wrongdoing, all point toward a lengthy period of disqualification.”

“Katungul’s funds were deliberately misused by Mr Matcham to confer benefits on himself to the detriment of Katungul’s charitable objectives,” Justice Jacobson said.

Mr Matcham was found to have paid unauthorised bonus and time in lieu payments to himself of more than $515,000 from 2008 to 2011.

He also received unauthorised payments for excess superannuation, recreation leave and other non-salary payments.

Mr Matcham incurred personal expenses on Katungul’s credit card and signed a mortgage over a Katungul property to secure a $200,000 bank overdraft for the corporation.

Katungul is a not-for-profit corporation that provides essential primary and secondary health services to Aboriginal people in the Far South Coast.

“This is a significant decision and the scale of the orders is unprecedented in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporate sector,” Mr Beven said.

“This should send a very clear message that there are serious consequences for corporation officers that fail to meet the standards expected of them.”

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