A Kimberley shire CEO accused of financial misconduct said allegations were only levelled against him after he raised questions about a council-supported Aboriginal program he claimed “grossly” overspent by almost $1 million. The Shire of Halls Creek CEO Phillip Cassell said days after he probed an alleged budget blowout on the Olabud Doogethu project he was stood down pending an investigation into financial matters. Three weeks later in mid-December, Mr Cassell handed in his resignation letter. “I suspect that the allegations were instigated by (questions about) the Olabud Doogethu project overspending and its use of public funds that I had expressed,” he said. Mr Cassell declined to make any further comment but has previously defended his conduct as CEO. Olabud Doogethu’s budget documents obtained by The Kimberley Echo show that between June 30, 2020 and June, 30, 2023 an apparent overspend on the Youth Engagement Night Officer (YENO) program of $930,011.30. In the budget spreadsheet, it was recorded that the YENO program received State funding of $850,661.37 over that period but spent $1.78m. The YENO program was established in 2019 to tackle youth crime and has had mixed results. Halls Creek Shire president Malcolm Edwards denied the YENO program had overspent by more than $930,000. He said those figures did not take into account that Olabud project staff were Shire employees and the budget also had to cover a subsidy for their housing and utilities. Mr Edwards said Mr Cassell was responsible for the Olabud project. “He is in charge of Olabud, he is in charge of day-to-day operations of the business and all of the staff,” he said. The Kimberley Echo was not able to get in contact with the managers of the Olabud Doogethu project. Mr Edwards said he could not comment on the nature of the allegations against Mr Cassell because the investigation was not complete. “The people of Halls Creek have a right to know after we have gone through all the processes,” he said. Mr Cassell is the third CEO to resign from the troubled shire in five years. He was preceded by former CEO Noel Mason who resigned after three years, leaving the shire when it was in deep debt. Mr Mason had taken over from Rodger Kerr-Newell who was sacked after a Corruption and Crime Commission report said that he gave his girlfriend a job and took 100 days leave to facilitate his other job as chairman of a New Zealand windfarm.