30 October 2012

NSW probe reveals council corruption

Nine people could face criminal charges after a major investigation uncovered a culture of corruption among NSW's local councils.

The state government will also examine legislative changes after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) published the findings of its four-year probe into bribery and kickbacks by officials.
ICAC made adverse findings against 21 council staff and one NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) employee after they accepted gifts in return for handing out public contracts.

Those gifts included vouchers, holidays and electronic goods such as iPads and mobile phones.

There were also adverse findings against 15 staff at private supply firms who offered the gifts.

Five council staff were named in the report for filing fake invoices in return for cash payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It appeared that these benefits were provided as a secret reward to public officials for ordering goods, ordering greater quantities of goods or continuing to order goods from these suppliers," ICAC said.
Nine of the 41 people named in the report will now have their cases referred to the public prosecutor, with a view to criminal charges being laid.

They are being referred to the prosecutor either as a direct result of the corruption, or for giving false evidence to ICAC's public hearings.

ICAC's investigation began in 2008 after a single tip-off from Bathurst Regional Council.

It rapidly expanded to take in staff at 88 local councils, 22 government agencies and the three private supply firms.

That number was whittled down to what was essentially a specimen caseload of 14 councils and the RTA (since renamed Roads and Maritime Services).

The 14 local authorities included City of Sydney, City of Botany Bay and Liverpool City Council, all of which employed staff guilty of taking bribes, according to ICAC.

It singled out two former storemen, Geoffrey Hadley of Bathurst Regional Council and Kerry Smith of Yass Valley Council, who are said to have issued false invoices to their employers in return for cash kickbacks.
"Under this scheme, Mr Hadley and Mr Smith received combined corrupt payments in excess of $323,000," ICAC said.

ICAC put the cost to Bathurst and Yass councils as a result of the rorts at about $1.5 million.
Responding to the findings, acting Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner foreshadowed changes to the law.
"The government will respond in terms of closing any loopholes in our local government legislation that has enabled this to occur in the past," he told AAP.

ICAC also made 15 recommendations to the local councils to reduce the likelihood of corruption in future.

thewest.com.au 29 Oct 2012

This so called 'find' is only the tip of the iceberg, literally.

Corruption of this sort in city councils has been going on for decades, and bribes do not stop with 'iPads'.

The so called 'loopholes' are created there for a purpose, but obviously the wrong people took advantage of them.

Australia in general is over governed, and local city councils should be removed.

Corrupt higher governance also allows for this type of fraud to continue.

Lets see if other local city councils will fall, probably not.

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