Metro Trains executive and V/Line chief received $150,000 each in corrupt cash payments, IBAC hears

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday October 29, 2020

Adobe

Metro Trains executive Peter Bollas has contradicted evidence given by a senior public servant to a corruption inquiry, including that the men received cash payments from a cleaning company boss through their involvement in a gambling syndicate.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission on Wednesday heard Bollas, Metro’s head of operational support, had received $150,000 in cash payments over the course of four years from Transclean co-owner George Haritos.

Transclean has held contracts with the Victorian train operators, Metro and V/Line, for several years.

The cash payments were “to assist and grow Transclean’s business”, Bollas told the inquiry, and were usually between $8000 and $10,000 on a monthly basis.

Bollas said he would often receive the money through V/Line chief executive James Pinder, who also received the payments.

Pinder has this week denied a number of allegations made by counsel assisting the commission Paul Lawrie, including that he received a $100,000 “loan” from a Transclean associate as payment for awarding the company a contract worth up to $40 million.


Read more: Corruption probe grills V/Line chief over payments


The V/Line boss told the inquiry on Tuesday that cash he had received from Haritos, which was uncovered when his house was raided in August, were winnings from a gambling syndicate between himself, Haritos and Bollas.

But on Wednesday Bollas said he was “never” part of a gambling syndicate.

The hearing was presented with video footage and photos of multiple meetings between Pinder and Haritos earlier this year, including at V/Line’s head office. Haritos had withdrawn sums of cash up to $12,000 before each meeting, the inquiry heard.

Under questioning from Lawrie, Pinder conceded that some of the money he received from Haritos at those meetings may have at times come from Transclean’s account.

The state corruption watchdog’s investigation, Operation Esperance, has been looking into corruption allegations regarding the tendering, procurement and management of contracts within V/Line and Metro.

On Monday the inquiry heard that Pinder had received at least $320,000 in a series of payments from Transclean between late 2018 and early 2019. It was alleged Pinder, Bollas and Haritos had used “secretive” burner phones to communicate with each since Pinder became head of V/Line in 2016.

Bollas and Pinder were both suspended from their positions in August.

The inquiry will hear from Bollas and Haritos on Thursday.


Read more: IBAC’s ‘Operation Esperance’ hearings to probe corruption allegations involving major public transport contracts


 

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