THE Attorney-General has given the go-ahead for a full-scale investigation into allegations Coroner Warner Banks sub-let his government flat, it was revealed yesterday. Investigations were stepped up after the Attorney-General decided there was a prima facie case against the coroner following a preliminary internal inquiry in September. Mr Banks, 51, is accused of letting part of his 2,000-square-foot Mid-Levels flat to girlfriend Chris Macartney, whom he has since married. He is the first member of the Judiciary to be investigated for alleged abuse of government perks. Mr Banks, who earns between $71,265 and $88,400 a month, pays 7.5 per cent of his salary as rent on the Mount Nicholson Road flat. Government regulations strictly forbid tenants from sub-letting any part of their accommodation. Penalties for abusing housing benefits range from repayment of allowances to dismissal. A Judiciary spokesman confirmed the investigation had moved into a second phase on the advice of the Attorney-General. The Judiciary which carried out the informal inquiry is also responsible for the full investigation, which will take several months. Once the Attorney-General agrees there is evidence of a breach of rules the normal procedure is to formulate charges. The person under investigation is then given a chance to answer. If the explanation is considered unsatisfactory, formal disciplinary proceedings are conducted. A Judiciary spokesman refused to say whether specific allegations had been drawn up yet and if so whether Mr Banks had been told what they were. In the past 10 years, 32 cases of abuse of housing privilege have been investigated resulting in disciplinary and or legal action against 17 civil servants. Ms Macartney, a former teacher, left her job at the German-Swiss International School on The Peak earlier this year. The couple were married in the summer. The apartment, which commands views of Wong Nei Chung Gap on one side and Central on the other, has an estimated market rental value of $80,000 a month. Flats in the block have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room and maid's quarters. The coroner's neighbours include at least one High Court judge, magistrates and several senior police officers and lawyers. A Civil Service Branch spokesman said: 'We take a very, very serious view of any case of abuse. 'We do not consider there is widespread abuse of the rules . . . but neither are we complacent.' Mr Banks was not available for comment yesterday.