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Queensland’s Chief Scientist and Museum Chief Executive jailed after fraud conviction
Professor Suzanne Miller, former Chief Scientist and Chief Executive of the Queensland Museum, has been convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years imprisonment, to be suspended after three months, as a result of an investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.
Miller’s sentence resulted from her having misused about $75,000 in public funds with purchases that included a silk jacket, an electric scooter, a drum kit and private health insurance.
Labelling the senior executive’s actions as "blatant", "protracted" and a "significant breach of trust", Brisbane Magistrate Noel Nunan today ordered Miller to serve a total of three months behind bars, after which her jail term will be suspended and she will be placed on a three-year good behaviour bond when she leaves prison.
Miller appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court via video link after pleading guilty in March to causing financial detriment to the QMN between February 2014 and July 2017.
The Court heard that on two occasions Miller paid her daughter's private school fees using the corporate credit card.
Those amounts were later repaid.
Miller was appointed as Queensland’s Chief Scientist in late 2016, while continuing to work as Queensland Museum's Chief Executive and Director.
Despite initially earning $288,000 a year - which increased to a combined salary of $367,000 after she became Chief Scientist - Prosecutor Christopher Cook told the Court that her "significant" wage was not enough to satisfy Miller, advising that her offences resulted from “greed and arrogance, not out of need.”
Prosecutor Cook said the offences were not a momentary lapse but "a gross abuse of high office".
The Court heard Miller misused a corporate credit card 18 times between August 2014 and June 2016, amounting to more than $30,000 in expenditure.
Purchases included a $935 silk jacket, theatre tickets, an electric scooter and a drum kit.
She also used the corporate card to transfer money into her mortgage account and make fraudulent travel claims.
As well as making unauthorised purchases, Miller improperly obtained private health insurance worth $45,000.
The Court heard it came after she produced a letter stating she was entitled to get private insurance cover paid.
Magistrate Nunan noted “when you were employed by the museum in South Australia, you were on a particular visa that entitled you to have your employer pay that amount (for private health insurance).
"You used that same earlier letter from the South Australian authorities … not disclosing that you had subsequently become an Australian citizen, even though your CV disclosed that."
Miller's defence team told the Court she was remorseful and had made admissions and paid restitution.
The Court heard she had already spent 26 days behind bars after choosing to surrender herself into custody at a previous Court appearance.
This included 14 days in solitary confinement due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Miller was stood aside in 2017 after being charged following a probe by the state's Crime and Corruption Commission.
Magistrate Nunan made an order that restitution for the full amount be paid immediately to the Queensland Museum.
Image: Professor Suzanne Miller. Credit: Queensland Museum.
6th September 2017 - Billabong’s Matthew Perrin loses appeal against fraud conviction
27th January 2017 - Former Billabong Chief Executive handed eight-year jail sentence for fraud
16th May 2016 - Queensland Museum draws record crowds
14th May 2015 - New Biodiversity Partnership for Queensland Museum
16th May 2013 - Senior appointments in Queensland culture
6th November 2009 - Queensland Orchestra gets new home with ABC
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