Embattled independent MP Craig Thomson is back in the headlines after the New South Wales (NSW) police conducted an early morning raid on his house. The search, which reportedly led to the seizure of computers, is part of the ongoing investigation on Mr Thomson's alleged misuse of Health Services Union (HSU) funds.
The NSW police conducted the raid after it secured a search warrant on behalf of the Victorian police. The search was held at 7 a.m. at the MP's Bateau Bay home. Reports said Mr Thomson was at home when the raid was conducted, but he was not seen by the media.
The police said no arrest was made. The raid is part of the civil action filed against the MP last week by Fair Work Australia over charges that Mr Thomson breached workplace laws 37 times and misused about $500,000 of HSU funds when he was national secretary of the union from 2002 to 2007.
Mr Thomson allegedly used the union funds to win the seat of Dobell, purchase air tickets for his wife Zoe and pay for the services of prostitutes. He has denied the charges and threatened to file a lawsuit against any person who continues to insist that he had engaged the services of sex trade workers.
Because of the alleged misuse of HSU funds not only by Mr Thomson but also other union officials, the HSU was placed into administration in June 2012. Former HSU east branch General Secretary Michael Williamson is also facing separate fund misuse charges filed by the NSW police.
Two leaked reports commissioned by HSU Administrator Michael Moore made by law firm Slater & Gordon and accountants VJ Ryan & Co noted that the east branch was the result of the merger of three HSU branches in NSW and Victoria in May 2010 which had a total of 53,500 members then.
Due to the fund scandal, the number of members had gone down to 45,900 which is costing HSU $4 million a year in lost income.
However, the bigger loss comes from fund misuse, including hefty pay hikes for HSU officials. Former Deputy General Secretary Marco Bolano enjoyed a pay rise to $201,000 from $118,000, ousted HSU National Secretary Kathy Jackson's compensation was boosted to $287,000 from $173,000, while Mr Williamson's salary also ballooned to $395,000 from $315,000 after the merger.
As a result of the fund abuse, the HSU's assets collapsed by $7 million in just two years even as it still allegedly owe Mr Williamson $565,000.
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