Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi engaged in serious misconduct by not disclosing a BHP Billiton-funded trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Western Australia’s corruption watchdog has found.
The Corruption and Crime Commission said on Monday that Ms Scaffidi had “signally failed in her duties” by not disclosing in her annual return the US$36,800 hospitality package, which included luxury hotel accommodation and business class airfares.
BHP Billiton paid for about 60 foreign government officials to attend the event, and was in May fined $25,000 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the gifts, with the regulator saying the mining giant had failed to devise and maintain sufficient internal controls over its global hospitality program.
The CCC also formed an opinion of misconduct relating to Ms Scaffidi’s acceptance of the package, which came two days after she voted with council in favour of a BHP Billiton application to waive a $22,100 hire fee for using Forrest Place for big-screen Olympic broadcasts.
“A reasonable person in her position would have been on their guard for the potential of a conflict of interest if any matter involving BHPB came before council,” the CCC said.
The CCC also concluded that Ms Scaffidi had engaged in serious misconduct by not divulging free tickets from BHP Billiton to a 2009 Chris Isaak concert at Leeuwin Estate and accommodation for the 2008 Broome Cup from property group Hawaiian Investments Pty Ltd.
After the Broome trip, Ms Scaffidi voted with council to approve a $180,000 grant to a consortium, which included Hawaiian, for a feasibility study to develop a Business Improvement District in the Perth CBD.
Under local government regulations, gifts to elected officials worth more than $300 are prohibited if it is reasonable to believe the donor is undertaking or intends to undertake an activity that requires council authorisation.
After news of the gifts broke earlier this year, Ms Scaffidi provided the CCC with a list of travel that she had undertaken for which a third party had made a contribution, but did not disclose in her annual return, including a 2013 trip to New York.
Ms Scaffidi was sought for comment.
She said in May that the City of Perth had received legal advice that she did not need to disclose the Beijing trip.
The City of Perth said on Monday it was not in a position to comment on the CCC report and understood the matter was before parliament.