In dramatic news, Michael Williamson, the former head of HSU East, is facing a jail term of up to 30 years after pleading guilty to charges that include ‘defrauding his former union of close to $1 million’.
According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday,
Williamson, 60, had been charged with more than 50 offences but those had been rolled into four major charges, Magistrate Graeme Henson was told at Sydney’s Downing Centre Criminal Court.
The charges related to cheating and defrauding the HSU East branch, creating false documents with the intention to deceive and the recruiting of others to hinder a police investigation.
In total, the four charges carry penalties in excess of 30 years’ imprisonment.
VHPA Secretary Craig McGregor has welcomed the news.
“The current leadership of the VHPA strongly supports the prosecution of all those who abused their positions within the HSU. There is no place for corruption within this or any other union.”
“Williamson’s guilty plea is a step in the right direction yet there is still a long way to go before we can put this sorry saga to rest. The case against former National Secretary Craig Thomson, for example, continues.”
“More relevant to our membership is the ongoing investigation into current National Secretary and former Victorian No. 3 Branch Secretary Kathy Jackson. We understand that the Fraud Squad has been interviewing former members of the Victorian No. 3 Branch Committee of Management about financial practices during Ms. Jackson’s leadership.
“The VHPA is of course cooperating fully with these investigations. And with the Union now on a sure footing we are launching a formal investigation into the financial practices of our predecessors. Any who are found to have abused their positions will be held accountable.”
“It is interesting to note that all pre-merger Vic No. 3 Branch Committee minutes are missing.
“These documents will assist in determining whether those Committees of Management that held office during Ms. Jackson’s reign endorsed expenditure of members’ money in a manner that was grossly inappropriate.”
“We have questions about expenditure that includes, but is not limited to, sojourns to the United States, China, Daylesford and a ski resort on Mt. Hotham; tens of thousands of dollars put towards ‘gifts’ and ‘donations’; expenditure at shoe shops and jewelry stores; trips to Spa Retreats; cheques for thousands of dollars made out to cash; and expenditure at a Las Vegas casino and at a Hong Kong based fine-wine cellar.”
“It is crucial that we get hold of the missing minutes; until we do we will not know what was approved and what was not. We will be keeping members informed as the investigation continues,” said Craig McGregor.
Missing document alert
Important Union documents including financial reports and management committee minutes from previous years are still missing.
The Victorian Police fraud squad, as part of their investigations into Kathy Jackson, is seeking all such documentation.
If you served in an official capacity with the Union prior to May 2010 and hold any copies of financial reports, statements or minutes please urgently contact the VHPA on 1300 322 917.
Timeline: how the HSU affair unfolded
Williamson apologises to HSU members
Following his guilty plea in the criminal matters against him, Michael Williamson has apologised “unreservedly” to the HSU and its members.
The apology was part of a $5 million settlement with the HSU NSW branch of its civil case against him.
According to Gerard Hayes, Secretary of HSU NSW, the settlement between Williamson and the Union involves:
- A $5 million Supreme Court Judgment against Williamson;
- Setting aside Williamson’s claimed pay rates back to 2003, which results in reducing the Union’s defined benefits superannuation liabilities to Williamson by approximately $1.1 million; and eliminating in excess of $600,000 worth of claimed leave entitlements;
- A written public apology from Williamson to all members and staff.
Media has reported that Williamson has declared himself bankrupt.