Former Australian of the Year state finalist Eman Sharobeem used charity funds to buy gifts for federal and state politicians, a Sydney corruption inquiry has been told.
Sharobeem on Thursday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption she used money from the Immigrant Women’s Health Service to pay for gifts worth $12,500 for both guests and politicians.
She said she purchased gifts for NSW ministers Victor Dominello and Pru Goward and federal ministers Michaelia Cash, Marise Payne and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
Sharobeem is accused of rorting more than half a million dollars while she was in charge of two publicly funded health services in Sydney to pay for personal holidays, jewellery and luxury goods.
In a statement Mr Dominello denied accepting a gift.
“I recall being offered a watch, but I absolutely refused to accept the gift. I have no recollection of receiving a tie or any other gifts.”
A statement from the office of Ms Cash also denied the claim.
“Minister Cash has never received a gift from Ms Sharobeem.”
While Ms Goward acknowledged she was given gifts by the former CEO.
“My recollection is that the gifts were of a token kind and under the disclosure threshold,” Ms Goward said in a statement.
A statement on behalf of Ms Payne said: “Any allegation that Minister Payne received a gift of that nature from Ms Sharobeem is completely false.”
A statement from Senator Fierravanti-Wells said allegations that she “received gifts of that nature from CEO Emman Sharobeem are completely false”.
Sharobeem told Thursday’s hearing that any jewellery receipts charged to the Immigrant Women’s Health service were part of normal business and if she approved personal expenses it was by accident.
“I was consumed helping people,” she said.
Sharobeem was often visibly upset during questioning and said the inquiry had the wrong person.
“Who do you think I am, a rich person? I can’t even pay my lawyers,” she said.
Sharobeem was shown several receipts that had been filed as expenses with the charity.
The top of the receipts which normally shows the business name had been cut off.
One invoice uncovered from Eternity Jewellers totalled $20,000 for an 18-carat gold diamond necklace and diamond studs earrings. It had the top of a credit card receipt only stapled to it.
A separate invoice missing a credit card receipt showed a purchase of an $8000 white gold diamond ring.
Sharobeem denied cutting the receipts saying she only ever removed the staples.
“Would I be that stupid to leave it like that,” Sharobeem told the inquiry.
She said she would simply empty her bag onto her desk and rely on her assistant to sort out which expenses were personal and which were for the charity.