THE Independent Commission Against Corruption will investigate NSW Maritime’s top lawyer for a second time in six years, examining allegations that she has been running her private conveyancing business from government offices.Months after the Herald revealed NSW Maritime’s general counsel, Tonette Kelly, listed her direct office phone number for her Tonette Kelly Conveyancing business, the ICAC has announced it will begin public hearings next week into a number of issues and individuals in the organisation.The ICAC hearings will begin just a month before Ms Kelly was due to face four charges of accessing the computer of one of her staff, Paul Bertram, and distributing some of his emails complaining about the authority’s management and competence. She has pleaded not guilty.Ms Kelly told the Herald last year that she had used NSW Maritime phones and faxes for her business for more than five years but only handled half a dozen conveyancing matters annually and said she had permission from management to use government facilities for private purposes.She said an anonymous complainant had referred her conveyancing business to the ICAC in 2004 and that the ICAC had in turn referred the matter back to NSW Maritime, which had employed the barrister John Clark to conduct an inquiry.Mr Clark cleared Ms Kelly, finding ”no evidence to suggest [she] is or has been running such a business from the premises of NSW Maritime”. His report added: ”There is a considerable amount of probative evidence to suggest the contrary.”Several of Ms Kelly’s colleagues have also been accused of assisting in the conveyancing work, including Bonnie Dacombe, who also provided clients with her direct office phone number and government mobile number when doing conveyancing work.As well as Ms Kelly, the ICAC said it would investigate ”other officers” at NSW Maritime, but has not said who they are.NSW Maritime has refused to say whether Ms Kelly is still on full pay or attends work, although Maritime insiders say she has not been in the office for months.Ms Kelly is a long-serving employee of NSW Maritime and enjoys strong support from the leadership of the organisation despite presiding over a bitterly divided section that has lost about 15 of its 20 staff in less than two years.After Mr Bertram complained about his computer being unlawfully accessed, NSW Maritime’s chief executive, Steve Dunn, suspended him on full pay before reinstating him following pressure from his union.When Ms Kelly was charged by police in August, Mr Dunn wrote to staff questioning the police decision. ”I understand the charges were laid prior to a full investigation of the matter and prior to speaking to a range of potential witnesses,” he said.He told staff the police appeared to be acting on NSW Maritime’s ”internal review” of Mr Bertram’s allegations, which he said ”made no findings against any person”, but failed to say the review also said that ”the only person in the Level 11 Kent Street office at the time the emails were sent was Ms Kelly”.
Nanjing Night Net