The Future Fund board of guardians and staff of its management agency will be subject to separate criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for offences to do with dishonesty or recklessness. The criminal provisions are contained in the Future Fund Bill, tabled in Parliament last week.

The criminal offences are on top of those under the Commonwealth Agencies and Corporations Act.They are: “Use of position – criminal offence: A board member or a member of the staff of the agency commits an offence if he or she uses his or her position dishonestly: (a) (i) directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself or herself or someone else; or (ii) causing detriment to the ability of the board to perform its functions; or (iii) causing detriment to another person; or(b) (i) him or her or someone else directly or indirectly gaining an advantage; or (ii) causing detriment to the ability of the board to perform its functions; or (iii) causing detriment to another person. Penalty: Imprisonment for five years. “Use of information – criminal offence: A person who obtains information because he or she is, or has been, a board member or a member of the staff of the agency commits an offence if he or she uses the information dishonestly: (a) with the intention of: (i) directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself or herself or someone else; or (ii) causing detriment to the ability of the board to perform its functions; or (iii) causing detriment to another person; (b) recklessly as to whether the use may result in: (i) him or her or someone else directly or indirectly gaining an advantage; or (ii) causing detriment to the ability of the board to perform its functions; or (iii) causing detriment to another person. Penalty: Imprisonment for five years.” The Bill stipulates that the chairman and six other members of the board of guardians cannot be employees of the Commonwealth and must have relevant experience dealing with financial assets. Staff of the agency which will run the day-to-day operations can be Commonwealth employees. So far the Government has announced only the appointment of the chair – former Commonwealth Bank chief executive, David Murray. The other guardians will be announced in the new year. The Bill requires the agency to be established before July 1, 2006.

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