Integrity Commission uncovers breaches, corruption at FLA

A probe by the Integrity Commission has uncovered a raft of breaches and acts of impropriety and corruption in the granting of gun licences by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) between 2012 and 2018.
The FLA has been embroiled in controversy over the issuing of licences for years.
Recently, there were claims and counterclaims of corruption in the process by the current head of the FLA and past board members.
The Integrity Commission's Director of Investigation found that 33 licences were granted to ex-convicts between 2016 and 2018, and that in seven of  those instances, the individuals 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 says in 30 out of 52 instances, the 2016 Board approved the firearm user licence applications of people who were not recommended by FLA investigators and who were also previously denied.
But it is not just the actions of the 2016 board that are being called into question.
The Director of Investigation says both the 2016 and 2012 FLA Boards acted ultra vires in their denial and subsequent approval of applications.
Former Deputy FLA Chairman Dennis Meadows came in for special mention, having approved the application of a family member.
The Director of Investigation says the family member was convicted for attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine in the United States.
According to the Director of Investigation, this was as an explicit act of nepotism, a conflict of interest and corruption.
He says Mr. Meadows' action and his failure to recuse himself from any process involving the application contravened the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act.
Former security ministers flagged 
Former national security ministers Robert Montague and Peter Bunting were also 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 and Mr. Bunting approved two.
The Director of Investigation has also taken issue with the facilitation of an expedited process for applications submitted by Members of Parliament and some others.
He says it is highly irregular and is a corruption enabling conduit. 
The Director of Investigation also found there was a practice of FLA Board members affixing their signatures for the approval of firearm user licences without a complete perusal of the application.
He says this is tantamount to gross dereliction of duties and an abuse of the duty of care owed.

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