Anindiliyakwa Land Council boss Mark Hewitt referred to National Anti-Corruption Commission

Anindiliyakwa Land Council boss Mark Hewitt referred to National Anti-Corruption Commission Ian De SIlva, 53, has pleaded guilty over the death of a child on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory in 2021. (ABC News: Jano Gibson)

The embattled boss of a remote Northern Territory land council has been referred to the national anti-corruption commission by a Commonwealth government agency.

Mark Hewitt, the chief executive of Groote Eylandt's Anindiliyakwa Land Council (ALC), has been facing scrutiny over the alleged misuse of millions of dollars in mining royalties.

Mr Hewitt is serving as co-chief executive of Winchelsea Mining on the remote island, while simultaneously serving as the head of the island's land council.

Last month, senate estimates hearings were told Winchelsea Mining received more than $16 million of royalties money from the ALC to help build infrastructure to support the company's manganese project.

He has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the matter and continues as land council boss.

This week, the National Anti-Corruption Commission confirmed it was assessing the matter.

"The Commission can confirm that it has received a referral from the NIAA [National Indigenous Australians Agency]," a spokesperson from the commission said.

"The Commission is assessing the referral, as it does with all referrals, and will not make further comment at this stage."

Mr Hewitt declined to comment, other than to say that he hadn't been notified about the referral by either the NIAA or the anti-corruption commission.

Independent review findings not yet public

Last month, a senate estimates session heard that Mr Hewitt remained in his role running the land council despite being the subject of an ongoing review by the NIAA.

The NIAA's Integrity Group group manager Sean Worth confirmed he had commissioned a review into the land council's operations after the issue had been raised in the media.

Mr Worth said the review had been expected to be finished by July, however, the NIAA on Wednesday said the recent death of the long-term chair of the ALC may delay its release.

In estimates, Independent senator David Pocock described Mr Hewitt remaining in his position during the review process into his actions as a "pretty egregious conflict of interest".

Mr Worth said whether to remove Mr Hewitt from the role would be a decision for the ALC's board.

When asked why it referred Mr Hewitt to the anti-corruption body, an NIAA spokesperson said "the Commonwealth government takes any concerns or allegations of wrongdoing seriously".

"To avoid compromising any potential investigation, no further comment will be made in relation to this referral," they said.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/anindiliyakwa-land-council-boss-mark-hewitt-referred-to-national-anti-corruption-commission/ar-BB1pIm7K?ocid=00000000

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