Transport Ministry fraudster jailed

A former Ministry of Transport senior manager who defrauded the Crown of nearly three quarters of a million dollars has been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison.

Joanne Harrison, also known as Joanne Sharp, stole money from the ministry by using invoices to pay entities linked to her own name.

The 50-year-old was sacked last July after she was found to have stolen more than $725,000 of taxpayer funds.

Ms Harrison was caught when an internal investigation found suspicious payments had been made to various entities in her name.

The fraudulent transactions took place between 2012 and 2016, in which time she managed to pay off the mortgage on her home worth more than half a million dollars - a property now in the sole name of her husband.

The court also heard that her recent offending wasn't the first time she'd faced the courts on charges of fraud.

She faced previous convictions for similar offending in July 2007 and was sentenced to undertake 300 hours of community work in relation to fraud charges. Yet she was able to get employment in 2011 with the Ministry of Transport.

The Serious Fraud Office led the investigation into the missing money and says keeping track of fraudsters can be difficult.