A former CommBank tech executive will be jailed for 3.5 years

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A former Commonwealth Bank technology executive has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for accepting bribes from a supplier.

Keith Robert Hunter, who was head of IT operations at the bank, was found guilty today in the NSW District Court of taking bribes from ServiceMesh, a US company that offered IT services to CBA. In total, he received a jail sentence of three years and six months with a non-parole period of two years and three months.

The Australian reports that Hunter and colleague Jon Waldron were accused of taking $2.9 million in total. Hunter received US$630,000 to show favouritism towards ServiceMesh, according to iTnews, but the court heard that he was hoping for at least US$1 million.

Hunter was also found guilty of pushing Commonwealth Bank to spend $6.65 million on software and related services that auditors later found it did not need. He had a maximum authorisation of $1 million, so split the purchase into seven separate transactions with Service Mesh, according to ZDNet.

Justice David Arnott said that the executive’s “primary motivation was greed” and his crimes were in mid-range seriousness within this category.

Hunter was arrested last year. Both he and Waldron originally pleading not guilty. However, Hunter later changed his plea to guilty, and Waldron’s case continues separately.

“Commonwealth Bank referred matters to the NSW Police in early 2015 involving the conduct of two former employees, because we took the view then, as we do now, that is was the right thing to do,” said a Commonwealth Bank spokesperson.

“We considered that the suspicious activity of these individuals was serious which is why we took the step of reporting their activity to the NSW Police. The police acted by laying charges against two former employees.

“We have cooperated with the police throughout their investigation and the proceedings and will continue to do so as the judicial process continues for the other individual.”

Defence lawyers argued for a reduced sentence on the basis that Hunter thought he was acting in the interests of Commonwealth Bank and of his current mental disorders. The former executive also faces fraud charges in his native United States, with a potential outcome of 45 years behind bars.

ServiceMesh co-founder and chief executive Eric Pulier sold the company to multinational IT giant CSC for US$260 million. After the Commonwealth Bank scandal unfolded last year, CSC filed a lawsuit against Pulier and has also sought to recover illicit payments from Hunter.

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