The ACT Integrity Commission has found the former CEO of the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) guilty of serious corrupt conduct. 

The commission's investigation, dubbed Operation Luna, revealed that former CEO Leanne Cover deliberately concealed information from the CIT board about a series of multi-million-dollar contracts.

The investigation scrutinised contracts worth $8.5 million, awarded over four years to consultant Patrick Hollingworth and his companies Think Garden and Redrouge Nominees. These contracts included tasks such as “strategic guidance and mentoring services” and “design structures and elements that enable greater coordination of analysis and decision-making.”

ACT Skills Minister Chris Steel had previously expressed concerns about these contracts, questioning their vague wording and whether they represented “an efficient use of public funds in line with community expectations”.

In June 2022, Ms Cover stood down from her position and was on paid leave until her resignation earlier this month. During this period, she continued to receive her annual salary of over $360,000.

The commission's report revealed that Cover “intentionally” and “deliberately” withheld details of the contracts from the board, resulting in significant financial gain for Mr Hollingworth at the expense of the territory.

“The progressive failure to consult the board cannot reasonably be regarded as an oversight or a misjudgement: any reasonable CEO must have known that consulting with the board was not only desirable but necessary,” Commissioner Michael Adams KC said. 

The report also revealed that Minister Steel and his chief-of-staff had raised concerns about further contracts with Mr Hollingworth's companies in December 2021. 

However, Ms Cover did not relay these concerns to the board and proceeded with a final contract worth nearly $5 million. 

Additionally, the commission found that Cover misled Mr Steel in a letter, constituting a “gross breach of trust”. 

While the commission cleared former CIT board chair Craig Sloan of corruption, it found that he failed to exercise due care and diligence in his statutory responsibilities. 

Sloan had not brought information about the contracts to Mr Steel and sent a letter containing a “misleading impression” that required correction.

Legal challenges had sought to block the release of the commission's report. However, the court rejected the injunction earlier this week, clearing the way for its publication.

The full report is accessible here (PDF).