Central Goldfields Shire Council chief executive officer Mark Johnston has been charged with multiple accounts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, false accounting and conflict of interest.
The charges follow a Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (LGICI) investigation that has taken place over the past year.
The LGICI released the following statement this afternoon:
“Mr Mark Johnston, CEO of Central Goldfields Shire Council, has today been served via his lawyers with 41 charges following a comprehensive investigation by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.
“Mr Johnston was presented with 41 charges in total, including two charges under the Local Government Act relating to conflict of interest, 34 charges under the Crimes Act relating to obtaining financial advantage by deception, and five charges of false accounting.
“The charges were filed in the Melbourne Magistrates Court last Friday.
“Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf said the charges were laid after a long and complex investigation with several matters dating back a number of years. Central Goldfields Shire Council Mayor has been advised of the matter.
“The matter is listed for initial hearing at the Maryborough Magistrates Court on 31 August 2017.”
Fairfax Media understands the financial advantage by deception charges relate mainly to corporate credit card use.
Johnston has been the CEO at the council since its inception in 1995, following the forced amalgamations imposed by the government of Jeff Kennett, who appointed interim commissioners to replace the previously elected councillors.
He was selected by the three commissioners of the CGSC: John Gault, Geoff Horton and David Karmouche, having previously been acting CEO of the Gannawarra shire.
Central Goldfields Shire Council mayor Geoff Lovett has been contacted for comment.
Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins referred all queries to the LGICI.