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Now to the story...

Funds disappear from bank agency

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on April 19th, 2002.

The Torres Strait's Islander Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) says it was "totally out of its depth" when it took on the operations of a banking agency at Weipa.

An auditor-general's report reveals $73,000 disappeared from the Commonwealth Bank agency between 1999 and 2000.

The board's general manager, Ned Bates, says his own investigations at the time revealed a total lack of security.

"The Napranum people would leave all their passbooks in our store. There was a certain amount of complacency and didn't have the facilities to clear cash every night," he said.

"When I seen the facilities that they were working out of, which were totally inadequate, I reckon there's some old barns that were better provided for than what a grocery store was. When we...[saw] what the problem was we closed the store down."

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank has declined to comment on how the branch lost $73,000.

A spokesman has also declined to say what action has been taken to ensure similar incidents do not happen elsewhere.

He says the bank has not been involved in the auditor-general's investigation.

The Torres Strait's Island Coordinating Council (ICC), which has two members on the IBIS Board, says it is not concerned about the Minister's proposal for a new board.

Both the ICC and the Torres Strait Regional Authority have otherwise remained silent on the issue.



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