The former head of a Queensland Aboriginal corporation was this week sentenced to four years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to more than 35 charges.
Brett Evans, former CEO of Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation on Mornington Island, faced charges for using his position dishonestly to gain an advantage for himself after he sold artworks worth more than $400,000.
The court heard the artworks, most of which were painted by now-deceased artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, were sold by Mr Evans in deceptive deals between 2011 and 2014.
Acting Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, Gerrit Wanganeen, described the jailing as “justice for artists” and said Evans had used his position to exploit artists and take advantage of the wider community.
“Mr Evans used his position as CEO to exploit these artists. He also took advantage of the wider community. This exploitation of artists and community goodwill is abhorrent.”
Mr Wanganeen said the case was a reminder for corporate boards to keep an eye out for “warning signs of mischief” in their ranks.
“It’s a reminder for all corporation boards and in particular those of art centres, to be familiar enough with corporation business to spot the warning signs of mischief in their ranks. Requiring managers to report regularly to directors and members enables early detection of issues—and action to prevent escalation.”