Wyndham councillor Intaj Khan has been charged with nine offences for failing to disclose all of his business and property interests in his register of interest returns.
The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate announced Cr Khan has been charged with three counts of failing to disclose companies in which he held office during the return period; three counts of failing to disclose companies in which he held a financial interest; two counts of failing to submit ordinary returns and one count of failing to disclose property holdings.
The charges relate to the filing of register of interest returns and the non-disclosure of relevant information in the returns filed between February 2016 and February 2017.
Cr Khan will front Werribee Magistrate’s Court on September 27 for an initial hearing. If found guilty of all nine charges, he could face fines of more than $85,000.
The Local Government Act 1989 requires individual Councillors to lodge returns – which detail property holdings, board positions and the like – every six months while they are in office. This is to ensure that councillors declare any conflicts of interests regarding council business.
The charges are not disqualifying offences and Cr Khan will continue to serve as a councillor.
Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf said ensuring the accuracy of ordinary returns was an important responsibility of councillors, to ensure the transparency and integrity of council decisions.
“It is important to note that these charges and the investigation into election candidates does not reflect on Wyndham City Council, which continues to provide good governance for the municipality,” Mr Wolf said.
Mr Wolf said this matter was separate to the recent interviews conducted by the Inspectorate with the majority of candidates in the 2016 Wyndham council election. A report into that investigation is expected in coming weeks.
“The Inspectorate has additional matters in the final stages of investigation, which will conclude shortly. These matters do not relate to the elected councillors.”
Wyndham council chief executive Kelly Grigsby said the council would continue to work with the Inspectorate to ensure ongoing compliance with the Local Government Act.
“All of the charges relate to matters for which each individual councillor has responsibility,” Ms Grigsby said.
“They are not matters for which council as an organisation is responsible. As such, the charges have been filed against Cr Khan personally.”
Cr Khan was first elected to Wyndham Council in 2012 and re-elected last year amid controversy over his alleged bankrolling of a team of dummy candidates. He has held senior economic roles and is currently the council’s “urban futures portfolio holder”, covering housing, planning and urban design.
Known as the “King of Bling”, Cr Khan drives a red Ferrari and has plans for a $10 million mansion – dubbed the “Intaj Mahal” by local critics – in Tarneit with 16 bedrooms, a 30-seat movie theatre and a helipad.