Moira Shire’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Adrian Pawar has resigned citing claims of widespread financial mismanagement and a “toxic” work environment.By Fiona Blick
Mr Pawar came to Moira Shire after working as Head of Reconciliations at JP Morgan and the ANZ Bank; he was also the Head of Financial Governance with the ANZ Bank.
He resigned as CFO on August 21 after only six months in the job.
Mr Pawar told the Yarrawonga Chronicle following his resignation he had forwarded documents he claims “prove Moira’s financial mismanagement” to the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell.
Some of Mr Pawar’s claims include the “unchecked” nature of staff expenditure including the inappropriate use of fleet cars; staff incurring expenditure “without approval” of amounts between $10k - $50k; and inaccurate budget reporting on flood recovery monies.
Mr Pawar also claims “Moira Shire Council is currently running as an unviable and insolvent entity where council will only have under $5M cash left in the bank at the end of this financial year”.
Moira Shire CEO Gary Arnold rejected Mr Pawar’s version of events saying they were “utter nonsense”.
Mr Arnold did note, however, Mr Pawar’s claims were independently investigated during his employ with the council.
“I reject Mr Pawar's assertions regarding council's financial position and budgetary controls,” Mr Arnold said.
“Moira Shire Council is financially sound.
“The Victorian Auditor General recently named in parliament 21 councils that are not financially sustainable and Moira was not on the list.
“I have discussed Mr Pawar's claims with the Minister's office and the MAV.
“Without viewing the documents Mr Pawar has provided the Chronicle I am at a loss to explain his assertions which are quite frankly utter nonsense.”
CEO of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Rob Spence told the Chronicle he had received documentation from Mr Pawar and talked to him personally regarding his “financial interpretation issues”.
“The MAV is working through the material supplied to us by Mr Pawar, whose main position is his belief of Moira Shire’s dire cash position, and the matters raised will ultimately be taken up with Moira Shire Council,” Mr Spence said.
Mr Spence also confirmed he would be meeting with a sitting councillor from Moira Shire in the coming days to discuss the issues Mr Pawar has raised.
“We will be discussing concerns this councillor has with Moira Shire Council, including some of Mr Pawar’s claims,” Mr Spence said.
“After speaking with the councillor we will then go back and speak with Mr Pawar and then if appropriate we will go and speak with Moira Shire.”
He said it was not normal for the MAV to receive issues brought to them by council employees and it would be at least another week before the MAV approached Moira Shire.
“This is absolutely the first time these issues have been raised with us,” Mr Spence said.
The MAV is the membership association of Victoria’s 79 councils.
Its focus is on achieving gains for Victoria’s councils through collaboration, policy development and effective governance.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said while documents had been sent to her office from Mr Pawar the minister “does not comment on staff matters”.
The spokesperson went onto say, however, the Minister understands that Moira Shire Council will be meeting with the Municipal Association of Victoria “to discuss the proper investigation and resolution of the concerns raised”.
The spokesperson refused to comment on whether Ms Powell’s office will be personally investigating the allegations by Mr Pawar of Moira Shire’s financial mismanagement.
In September last year the Chronicle reported almost 40 Moira Shire employees indicated they were harassed or ‘micromanaged’ in a staff survey report conducted by then Human Resources Manager Peter Bertolus.
With the resignation of Adrian Pawar Moira Shire has lost, in the space of just over two years, eight senior personnel including Executive Corporate Development Bill Hayward, Director Community Sustainability Kaye Thomson, Manager Economic Development Andrew Powrie, Director Corporate Governance Chris Cowley, Director Development Richard Whiting, Director Development Scott Taylor and Director Infrastructure Services Aaron Drenovski.
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