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Corrupt lawyer suspended

Corrupt lawyer suspended

A former lawyer with NSW Maritime who illegally used government resources to run her own consultancy business has had her practising certificate suspended. The NSW Legal Services Commissioner…

A former lawyer with NSW Maritime who illegally used government resources to run her own consultancy business has had her practising certificate suspended.

The NSW Legal Services Commissioner has today (27 September) suspended Tonette Kelly, the former general counsel of NSW Maritime, "in the public interest".

Earlier this month, the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) found that Kelly engaged in corrupt conduct in running a private consultancy business with an annual turnover of $120,000 from her government office. It also found that Kelly had lied and forged a document in trying to conceal her behaviour.

ICAC found that Kelly grossly understated the amount of conveyancing work she did in previous declarations to NSW Maritime with regard to secondary employment. Kelly had previously stated she did no more than three to four hours per week of consultancy work, and only received or made up to two phone calls per week while working in the offices of NSW Maritime.

It was later found that between 2001 and 2009, Kelly had sent over 4500 faxes from NSW Maritime premises and gained an extensive client list. She failed to declare her increased private business workload when renewing her application for secondary employment in August 2009.

ICAC referred Kelly to the Legal Services Commissioner as a result of its findings against her.

A second lawyer with NSW Maritime, Bonita Dacombe, was also found by ICAC to be engaged in corrupt conduct by assisting Kelly with her consultancy work.

Meanwhile, Kelly still faces charges that she improperly accessed the computer of a former colleague, Paul Bertram.

Bertram told Lawyers Weekly in September 2009 that a previous police investigation that said Kelly was not in the building at the time emails were allegedly sent from his computer without his knowledge was flawed as although there was no entry time for when Kelly entered the building, there was an exit time.

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