Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation (BTAC) has been released from their special administration unscathed by criminal charges, despite millions left unaccounted for in the corporation’s latest financial report.
After nine months of investigation and clean up, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) announced on Friday that BTAC’s special administration revealed “a serious shortfall in the bottom line as well as serious shortcomings in record keeping”.
“The financial report identified that the BTAC consolidated group incurred an operating loss of $11.4 million; BTAC itself lost $6.4 million,” read the ORIC statement.
“The audit resulted in a disclaimer of opinion, meaning the auditor lacked sufficient evidence to provide an opinion.”
The 2018-19 financial report left auditors unable to account for all expenses including over $1.6 million in unsupported travel costs, and revealed former CEO Matthew Slack was claiming an exorbitant salary upwards of $600,000.
It’s understood at least one of BTAC’s pastoral stations have been sold to help the corporation recover financially.
Registrar Selwyn Button said it would take time for BTAC to recover, but that the corporation was now in a better position.
“The lesson here is that healthy corporations ensure they are transparent with their members,” Button said.
BTAC members had consistently raised governance issues with ORIC as early as 2018 but were dismissed by the governing body, instead being told to seek legal advice or make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
ORIC has made no indication any criminal charges will be laid, saying comments will be made “when there is an outcome, for example, the commencement of legal proceedings”.
By Hannah Cross