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Importance of interest return disclosures

return formCouncillors have recently been required to submit their half-yearly ordinary interest returns, an important document for recording their interests in their municipality and flagging other positions and obligations. Non-disclosure can attract significant penalties for non-compliance.

Recently, Wyndham councillor Intaj Khan was convicted and fined $26,000 in Sunshine Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to eight charges for repeated failures related to the filing of interest returns.

The Inspectorate commenced criminal proceedings against Cr Khan in 2017 with three charges of failing to disclose companies in which he held office during the return period; three charges of failing to disclose companies in which he held a financial interest; and two charges of failing to submit ordinary returns between February 2016 and February 2017.

Cr Khan has lodged an appeal against the sentence which is listed for 14 September in the County Court.

These charges are not disqualifying offences under the Local Government Act 1989 and Cr Khan remains entitled to serve as a councillor. More information on the outcome is in our media release

The penalty comes after Cr Khan received a warning from the Inspectorate in 2015 for a similar offence and was provided additional training by his council.

Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf said: "The laws relating to interest returns support the transparency and integrity of local government. For councillors, they are an important guide to help avoid conflicts of interest".