CEO Donna Ah Chee says the regulator has assured Congress “the audit does not arise as a result of any complaint or any other compliance concerns of ORIC”.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
A spokeswoman for the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) said she “cannot comment specifically on individual examinations” when asked why the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is being examined.
She said the registrar conducts an annual rolling program of examinations, and pointed to an ORIC policy statement that explains the process.
Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee, when asked to comment, emailed this statement: “Congress welcomes the ORIC examination given the significant governance and organisational reforms that have been achieved over the last five years.
“Congress was advised by ORIC that the examination is part of the routine audit cycle of large organisations which occurs every five to seven years. Congress has been assured that the audit does not arise as a result of any complaint or any other compliance concerns of ORIC.”
ORIC operates under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) that governs the regulation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.
The policy statement says “the program examines large, essential or publicly funded corporations.
“The number of corporations examined each year under the rolling program will depend on the resources available to the Registrar in each year.”
The following is part of what the policy statement contains.
It is an important measure particularly where a corporation is publicly funded.
An examination may identify when corporations are running well [or are] experiencing financial or governance difficulties.
It would look at whether the corporation operates in accordance with the CATSI Act and the corporation’s rule book (constitution).
It would also:-
• Check that the directors , officers and employees of the corporation are carrying out their common law and statutory duties and exercising their powers appropriately.
• Check whether the directors have properly disclosed and managed any material personal interests that may exist or occur while they hold office.
• Check whether any benefits given to related parties have been properly managed by the corporation.
• Report any fraud or misuse of corporation resources for personal benefit.
• Assess the viability and solvency of the corporation.
• Identify and report any lack of control, direction and management of the affairs of the corporation by the directors or senior management.
Examinations are also conducted when matters come to the Registrar’s attention. These matters may include:
• Circumstances that are impacting on a corporation’s governance.
• The existence of disputes between members or between members and directors.
• Information that the directors, officers or employees of a corporation are not carrying out their duties and exercising their powers appropriately.
• Irregularities relating to a corporation’s financial or operational management.
• Complaints or allegations about a corporation.
• The existence of problems or other indications that there are emerging problems that could impact on the corporation’s viability.
Anyone looking forward to the release of details of the examination may be sorely disappointed: “Unless the corporation [Congress in this case] has agreed to the release or inspection of an examination report, the report is an ‘exempt document’ … a person cannot inspect or copy an examination report … information in an examination report is protected information.
“Information given to an authorised officer, in confidence, during an examination is also protected information … the Registrar is required to take all reasonable measures to ensure that protected information is not the subject of unauthorised use or disclosure.”
An ORIC spokeswoman says: “The outcome of every examination is published. The ‘examination report’ is an exempt document but the response from ORIC to the corporation notifying them of the outcome of the examination is a public document on our website.”
We have asked Ms Ah Chee (pictured) whether Congress will be approving the release by ORIC of its examination report. We will update this story when her response is to hand.