IBAC investigation complete

An investigation into corrupt handling of $25 million in Victorian Government contracts has finished

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is preparing a brief of evidence for submission to the Office of Public Prosecutions, after finalising its investigation into the corrupt handling of $25 million in government contracts.

IBAC has tabled its report on Operation Fitzroy, an investigation into claims two employees at the former Department of Transport (DOT) and Public Transport Victoria (PTV) acted corruptly and misappropriated significant public funds between 2006 and 2013.

Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan says the report details how significant gaps in the management of procurement, inadequate supervision and a culture of expediency over compliance allowed government contracts to be corrupted.

"DOT and PTV’s culture relating to, and methods of dealing with, possible corrupt conduct were plainly inadequate during much, if not all, of the relevant period," he says.

"This significant, entrenched corruption went unchecked for seven years until IBAC took overt action, with many red flags raised but missed along the way."
The investigation found about $25 million was paid by DOT and PTV during the relevant period to entities that were controlled either by Barry Wells and Albert Ooi, or by their associates.

Between them, Barry Wells and Albert Ooi obtained over $3 million in monetary profits and other benefits during the relevant period through their corrupt conduct.

The investigation also found important information that came to the attention of DOT and PTV personnel, and which ought to have sounded warning signals at least of possible improper conduct, was largely ignored.
"Public sector agencies like PTV spend billions of taxpayer dollars on vital goods and services for the community. Responsibility for public expenditure comes with an obligation to have robust measures in place to ensure integrity in procurement practices," says O’Bryan.
"Without robust measures, systems are left vulnerable to corruption by individuals – at great cost to our state and our community.
"Sadly, the issues identified by Operation Fitzroy are not isolated – a number of our current investigations are looking at similar issues.

"This highlights a clear need for the Victorian public sector to learn from the findings of IBAC’s Operation Fitzroy in order to prevent corruption."
IBAC has made several recommendations including DTPLI and PTV take appropriate steps towards excluding third persons and entities whose behaviour has been found to be improper or corrupt from obtaining contract work in the future.

The issues raised in the report will also be referred by IBAC to the Department of Treasury and Finance and the Victorian Government Purchasing Board to consider as part of their role in ensuring best practice, training and advice in public sector procurement. 
The report will also be referred to the Victorian Public Sector Commission to inform whole-of-government policy frameworks and supporting tools for managing conflicts of interest, gifts and benefits, and secondary employment arrangements.

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