- Former Commonwealth Bank IT head Keith Hunter arrested
- Nearly $2 million in funds frozen
- Second former executive on the run
- Hunter also a former head of global operations at Visa
THE former head of Commonwealth Bank’s IT Service Delivery has pleaded not guilty to bribery after nearly $2 million was frozen in a joint investigation by NSW police and FBI agents.
Fraud and Cybercrime Squad officers arrested 61-year-old US national Keith Hunter in Surry Hills on Tuesday.
Hunter was granted bail and will reappear on April 1 at Downing Centre Local Court. He has to surrender his passport and not leave NSW or go near any airports.
The court heard there are also civil proceedings against him.
Police claim he was about to flee to his native United States when arrested.
NSW Police have enlisted the help of the FBI to help find for questioning a second senior Commonwealth Bank executive, New Zealand national Jon Waldron, who flew to the United States on Saturday.
No arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Waldron.
Mr Hunter’s solicitor Bryan Wrench denied outside of court his client was trying to flee when arrested.
“He’s pleaded not guilty and quite frankly he is the only person who decided to fight this case in Australia,” he said.
Outside of court Supt Katsogiannis said the bank “fronted” the pair about “suspicious payments from a non-profit organisation in the United States” when they were fired.
“They were making some enquiries and identified this anomaly of a bank account which they thought to be suspicious. They looked into it and discovered quite a substantial amount of money had been put into that particular bank account and when they dug around a bit more they discovered where the money was coming from. It was all done through US transfers, it was all in US dollars,” he said.
Supt Katsogiannis said the FBI was not offically part of the investigation yet and his corporate corruption unit needed more evidence before any charges could be laid against the US firms involved.
“This is solely a NSW based investigation, however we are liaising with the FBI to assist us with the US based aspect of this particular matter,” he said.
“(We will allege that) while he (Mr Hunter) was working as a senior executive for the Commonwealth Bank he was receiving corrupt payments that were placed into a CBA account by this non-profit organisation. That amount of money goes into the millions of dollars.
“As of last week we were able to freeze that bank account containing in excess of $1.5 million which we will be alleging are the proceeds of crime and corrupt commissions.
We believe there was more money, some of that money is no longer there, we are still making investigations to see if there are more funds available or in another bank account.”
Supt Katsogiannis said his unit would was actively targeting white collar criminals.
“It’s at the top echelon. The offence of corrupt commissions carries seven years, it’s a very serious offence. These individuals are the most senior executives that have been caught out for this sort of offence. Congratulations to the Commonwealth Bank for coming forward,” he said.
“The work we are getting at the corporate corruption unit this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“In times gone by most of these employees were usually terminated and would go from financial institution to financial institution.
“Both employees had their employment terminated at the same time. We also be alleging the individual before the court was trying to leave the country before police arrested him. He’s made arrangements to leave Australia.
“This two were on very substantive remunerations and had large financial delegations within the bank.”
The pair were fired by the bank late last year after the Commonwealth Bank discovered funds in bank accounts managed by the bank.
Police allege the American was involved in “a corrupt relationship with a now publicly-listed overseas technology provider”.
He helped award an IT tender for the US based firm worth tens of millions of dollars to help the bank in cutting its IT costs using cloud computing for storage, hosting and application development platforms.
Police will allege the manager granted the company a lucrative contract without putting it to public tender in exchange for money.
More than $US1.5 million ($A1.96 million) in suspected corrupt payments have been frozen by officers from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.
But police believe there may be millions more stashed in overseas accounts.
The US national and Mr Waldron had both worked at the Commonwealth Bank since 2011. Waldron was the General Manager of IT Engineering.
The US national had previously spent a decade working as the Head of Global Operations at Visa as well as at JP Morgan Chase for 20 years before that, according to his social media profile.
Fraud and Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, commended detectives for an “outstanding job” and praised staff and investigators at the bank.
Supt Katsogiannis said the US national was the highest level executive charged for bribery by his unit. If convicted he faces a maximum seven year jail term.
Originally published as Senior bank exec denies bribery charge