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Integrity Commission recommends FLA review 52 gun permits it granted

The Integrity Commission has recommended that the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) immediately conduct a review of 52 firearm licences granted between 2012 and 2018.
 
The Director of Investigations says the FLA should consult with the National Intelligence Bureau and the Criminal Investigations Branch to determine whether the licences should be revoked.
 
The recommendation follows a probe by the Integrity Commission that uncovered a raft of breaches and acts of impropriety and corruption in the granting of gun licences by the FLA.
 
The Director of Investigation found that 33 licences were granted to ex-convicts between 2016 and 2018, and that in seven of those instances, the persons were convicted for violent crimes, while four were for illegal possession of firearms and other gun offences.
 
In 38 instances, licences were granted to persons linked to criminal activities, including lottery scamming and violent crimes.
 
Many of the licences were granted after an initial denial.
 
The Director of Investigation has recommended amendments to the Firearms Act Regulations to incorporate specific requirements and character traits that would constitute the criteria to be met by an applicant who is deemed fit and proper to be granted a firearm licence.
 
He said the FLA Board should conduct a further assessment into the backgrounds and lifestyles of ex-convicts to determine whether they should be entrusted with a firearm.
 
Turning to the Minister of National Security, the Director of Investigations said the Firearms Act and its regulations should include an established process which guides the minister in the grant of firearm user licences on appeal.
 
Without such an established process, he argued, the unrestricted application of ministerial discretion would undermine the integrity and credibility of the appeals process and give rise to the perception of bias and corruption.
 
The Director of Investigation has also recommended that the national security minister familiarise himself with reports of the National Intelligence Bureau and Criminal Intelligence Branch.
 
This will ensure that the minister is fully aware of security concerns which may impact the determination of whether an applicant is a suitable candidate to be granted a firearms licence.
 
Former national security ministers Robert Montague and Peter Bunting were flagged for approving licences for persons with criminal traces, who were initially found unfit to hold a firearm by the FLA.
 
Mr. Montague approved six such licences while Mr. Bunting approved two.
 
 
More recommendations 
 
The Integrity Commission said the FLA should cease the irregular practice of a Board reviewing its own decisions or that of a previous Board.
 
The Director of Investigation in his probe found that the 2012 and 2016 FLA Boards acted beyond their powers in their denial and subsequent approval of applications.
 
He has referred the matter involving former Deputy FLA Chairman Dennis Meadows to the Director of Corruption Prosecution for a determination.
 
Mr. Meadows was found to have approved the application of a family member who was convicted for attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine in the US.
 
The Director of Investigation said the Director of Corruption Prosecution should decide whether the actions of Mr. Meadows amounted to an explicit act of nepotism, which constitutes the common law offence of misconduct in public office, a breach of public trust and a breach of Section 14 of the Corruption Prevention Act.
 
Mr. Meadows was recently embroiled in claims and counterclaims of corruption in the granting of licences with the current head of the FLA, Shane Dalling.
 
The Director of Investigation has recommended that FLA directors in reviewing and approving firearm user licences, conduct a complete perusal of the firearm user licence applications rather than the execution of a mere "rubber stamping" or "signing on the strength" of other directors.
 
The Integrity Commission has sent a copy of its report to the Financial Investigations Division and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) for further probe into other allegations against the FLA.
 


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