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Health union official lodges fraud complaint

A SENIOR Health Services Union official has lodged a complaint with the New South Wales police alleging "systemic and organised fraud within the HSU, including the procuring of secret commissions and corrupt rewards from suppliers and contractors".

A SENIOR Health Services Union official has lodged a complaint with the New South Wales police alleging "systemic and organised fraud within the HSU, including the procuring of secret commissions and corrupt rewards from suppliers and contractors".

The Sydney Morning Herald revealed yesterday that the union's national president, Michael Williamson, and federal MP Craig Thomson, formerly the general secretary of the union, were given credit cards by a major supplier to the union.

John Gilleland, who is paid $680,000 a year to produce the Union's newsletter, Health Standard, has previously provided Mr Thomson and Mr Williamson with credit cards that were attached to his American Express account.

Earlier this year, Mr Gilleland's wife, Carron, complained to several union officials that Mr Williamson had "run amok" with the credit card and had used it to pay for a variety of things, including expensive wines for his cellar, as well as his children's private school fees.

The union official who lodged the preliminary complaint yesterday has sought a meeting with police on Monday to provide a detailed statement.

Mr Williamson, who sits on the ALP national executive, yesterday issued a statement rejecting the allegations raised by the Herald. The Labor powerbroker said he was seeking legal advice and had "no further comments on this matter".

Apart from his union salary, Mr Williamson's company United Edge bills the union hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for mobile phones and IT services.

His directorship of United Edge is not revealed to members in the annual reports. Nor is it revealed in advertisements in the union newsletter, where the company offers discounts on union membership in return for signing up to United Edge mobile phone plans.

Mr Thomson, who quit the union in 2007 to become a federal MP, is facing allegations of using his union credit card to make more than $100,000 in cash withdrawals during his time as union boss, as well as using the card to pay for escort services in Sydney. Mr Thomson has denied the allegations.

A former HSU official spoke yesterday of the free-spending ways under the stewardship of Mr Williamson and Mr Thomson: "If you went somewhere, you didn't just buy a bottle of wine, you bought the best bottle of wine. Everything was always put on the union credit card."

Most Thursdays, 10 or 12 people from the Health Services Union would enjoy long, boozy lunches and the tab was always picked up by Mr Williamson, who put in on his union credit card, the former official said.

" In NSW when this was going on, the party in many ways lost its moral compass," he said. "No one of any ethical authority said to these guys, 'You are not doing the right thing."'


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