Hearings into corruption allegations in Victorian public transport sector to continue

By Shannon Jenkins

March 22, 2021

(Image: AAP)

The Victorian government’s corruption watchdog will resume public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct within the state public transport sector on March 29.

The hearings are part of an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission investigation into allegations of serious corrupt conduct during the tendering, procurement and subsequent management of major contracts within V/Line and Metro Trains.

IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich on Friday said the next round of hearings would further examine integrity issues and their impact across the Victorian public transport sector.

“The first round of public hearings for IBAC’s Operation Esperance investigation exposed a range of integrity issues, including around the processes and management of certain major contracts between V/Line, Metro and suppliers,” he said in a statement.

“The investigation has also raised concerns around the effectiveness of controls associated with the proper delivery of essential cleaning services in the state’s public transport system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As part of IBAC’s focus on preventing corruption, the public hearings will consider whether the current systems and controls are sufficient to protect the integrity of the tendering and procurement process, and examine potential systemic issues, including how culture and practices may have contributed.”

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

In October the corruption inquiry heard that Metro executive Peter Bollas had received $150,000 in cash payments over the course of four years from the co-owner of Transclean — a cleaning company that has held contracts with the Victorian train operators, Metro and V/Line, for several years.

Bollas told the inquiry he would often receive the money through V/Line boss James Pinder, who also received the payments.

The inquiry also heard that Pinder had received at least $320,000 in a series of payments from Transclean between late 2018 and early 2019, and had used “secretive” burner phones to communicate with Transclean managing director George Haritos.

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

The next round of hearings will run for four days, and will be streamed on IBAC’s website.

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