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Funds Could Exceed $16m: Bligh

Source: Nine MSN

Premier Anna Bligh has conceded the amount missing from Queensland Health funds could exceed $16 million. Public servant Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel Barlow, was taken into custody early on Monday morning for questioning about the missing money. He was caught after a four-day search when he tried to enter his inner-Brisbane unit at New Farm about 3.30am (AEST) on Monday, say police. It’s alleged he siphoned off $16 million over three years, including one amount of $11 million in the past two weeks.

In light of the missing funds, Ms Bligh has ordered a forensic audit of Queensland Health and a review of the checks and balances governing department payments. “Our departments, as you would expect of every department, has a range of checks and balances, and in this case at least one if not more has failed,” Ms Bligh told ABC radio. “Until we have seen the outcome of that investigation I would not be putting a finality (on the figure that is missing) on anything.” New Zealand-born Morehu-Barlow has been a Queensland Health employee since 2005. News Limited reported Mr Morehu-Barlow has a criminal history for fraud in New Zealand. Ms Bligh said police criminal checks only sift through Australian records and that may need to be reviewed and extended. “They (Queensland Police) do a national history criminal history check of police records in Australia,” Ms Bligh said. “There may be some questions arising out of this case whether that is sufficient and that might well be a national issue. “When people come here from a different nationality and who have lived in another country for a period of time, it may be that at the very least we should be extending those checks to those countries. “This may well have national implications.”

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