Former Australian of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem has told a corruption inquiry that money from the not-for-profit women’s service she ran was accidentally used as a deposit to buy her husband a Mercedes in late 2014, ABC News reports.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is investigating allegations Ms Sharobeem corruptly obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars when she was in charge of two non-profit community groups set up to help disadvantaged migrant women.
Counsel assisting the commission Ramesh Rajalingam asked Ms Sharobeem if she told her partner that he deserved a car.
Ms Sharobeem replied: “Yeah of course, any good woman would say that to her husband.”
Ms Sharobeem said she was also shopping for cars for the two not-for-profit groups she ran.
One vehicle was purchased, and the commission heard she exchanged a work cheque for the second vehicle for an $18,000 bank cheque.
That money was used to help purchase the Mercedes.
“In my own recollection I made a bank cheque, but definitely it was from the wrong account,” Ms Sharobeem said.
When the error was raised by an auditor in September 2015, Ms Sharobeem said she immediately repaid the money.
“Do not try to change a mistake to a crime,” Ms Sharobeem said, “because a mistake is clearly a mistake. And I’m human.”
“I wouldn’t take the organisation’s money and pay for a Mercedes. I am not stupid. I am not an idiot. Why don’t you differentiate between a mistake and truth?”
The Acting Commissioner, the Honourable Reginald Blanch, asked Ms Sharobeem about the nine months between the purchase of the $35,000 car and the auditor’s message.
Ms Sharobeem said she rarely checked her accounts.
The hearing continues.