Investigations by Northern Territory Police into the rorting of a government travel concession scheme have widened, with a further 10 travel agencies being investigated.
Police have examined about 16 NT agencies so far, sometimes executing search warrants.
NT Attorney-General John Elferink told reporters that the latest 10 agencies were connected with the Flight Centre travel company but stressed that this did not implicate Flight Centre, the ABC reported.
Elferink said Flight Centre had already repaid the NT Government almost AUD 2.3 million in relation to the Pensioner and Carer Concession scheme, but that should not be construed as an admission of guilt. It should be seen separately to the referral to police.
“A settlement of a civil debt, you cannot automatically assume that’s evidence of anything that may or may not be in the criminal domain,” Elferink said.
The ongoing investigation into various travel agencies has been widely covered by the Northern Territory News and the ABC, and has more recently gained coverage in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Guardian Australia.
The Guardian online yesterday quoted a Flight Centre spokesperson saying that since it was asked to in September 2014, Flight Centre had “fully cooperated” and submitted information on “a large number of transactions” to the NT Health Department.
The Flight Centre spokesperson said the company had also volunteered to promptly repay any subsidies that may not have complied with the scheme’s rules and had repaid in the order of AUD 2.3 million, the Guardian online reported.
The spokesperson said the company was “proud of its record as a leading provider of high quality travel services to territorians and highly values its relationship with the government of the Northern Territory.
“It welcomes the opportunity to address any ongoing issues with the past administration of the pension scheme, will continue to cooperate with all territory agencies, and will of course do everything as may be properly required of it by the NT police to assist in any of their inquiries.”