Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Wayne Edward COMBO and Raymond Ernest CRAKE

Year: 
2014-2015
Category: 
Fraud
Location: 
Western Australia

Two men, 57-year-old Wayne Edward Combo and 56-year-old Raymond Ernest Crake agreed to engage in dishonest conduct with the intention of obtaining financial benefit through positions in public office and Commonwealth monies.

Crake, a long term associate of Combo, was involved in a number of organisations providing consultancy services to Indigenous organisations in Western Australia. He submitted three false invoices to the Nooda Ngulegoo Aboriginal Corporation (‘Nooda’) between February 2009 and June 2009. Combo was the Chief Executive Officer of Nooda and endorsed the invoices for payment. Upon payment Crake then transferred a share of the proceeds of the offending to Combo (and on one occasion to a girlfriend of Combo). The invoices claimed to be for training provided to members enrolled with Nooda, however the relevant training was actually being provided by a different training organisation and was fully funded under a Commonwealth grant.

Following an investigation by the (then) Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, it was found that all three invoices were false as they were not for direct goods or services purchased or obtained.

The total amount of money obtained as a result of the offending was $166,000 (although the total sought under the relevant invoices was $231,000). Of these funds, Combo personally received $74,500 and indirectly a further $10,000. CRAKE retained $81,500 of the funds received.

At the time of the offending, Nooda was an Aboriginal corporation operating in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Nooda was a service provider for the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program, which was funded through a Program Funding Agreement with the (then) Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. An objective of the CDEP program was to support Indigenous Australians to achieve economic independence, by helping Indigenous job seekers to gain the skills, training and capabilities needed to find sustainable employment and improve the economic and social well-being of communities. As Nooda was a service provider to the Commonwealth, Combo fell within the definition of ‘Commonwealth public official’ in the Criminal Code (Cth).

The men were originally sentenced on 29 August 2014 as follows:

 


  1. Combo – total effective sentence of 16 months, to be released forthwith on a recognisance release order (RRO) in the sum of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 16 months
  2. Crake – total effective sentence of 13 months, to be released forthwith on a RRO in the sum of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 13 months.


The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) argued on appeal that the sentences of both men were manifestly inadequate. The Court of Appeal agreed and on 24 February 2015 explained that fraudulent conduct of this type committed by the two men requires significant emphasis on and weight for general deterrence—with correspondingly less weight given to matters personal to the offenders. Specifically, in situations where the fraud depends for its success on an insider abusing their position of trust—which is exactly what occurred.

 

 

The Court concluded that the sentencing judge erred by imposing wholly suspended sentences, and resentenced the offenders as follows:

 


  1. Combo – total effective sentence of 16 months, to be released after serving 8 months on a RRO in the sum of $1,000, to be of good behaviour for 8 months
  2. Crake – total effective sentence of 10 months, to be released after serving 5 months on a RRO in the sum of $1,000, to be of good behaviour for 5 months.


Charges:

 

 

Wayne Combo was resentenced on 24 February 2015 to:

 

  • three counts of Abuse of Public Office, contrary to section 142.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The maximum penalty for this offence is five years imprisonment and/or a fine of $33,000.

 

 

Raymond Crake was resentenced on 24 February 2015 to:

 

  • three counts of Aiding and Abetting Abuse of Public Office, contrary to sections 11.2 and 142.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth)

The maximum penalty for this offence is five years imprisonment and/or a fine of $33,000.