Tapped calls and forgery admissions at IBAC hearing

By David Donaldson

July 7, 2017

The husband of the trainer at the centre of a $2.2 million corruption investigation has admitted he forged enrolment and assessment documents to make them “look authentic”, the ongoing inquiry at the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission heard on Thursday.

Malcolm Kellas conceded he had been paid by his wife Rebecca Taylor’s company, Taytell, to fill out the documents, which counted towards a Certificate IV of Engineering.

IBAC is looking into allegations Taytell received $2.2 million in public funding for training that was not completed. The inquiry has heard claims that students were enrolled without their knowledge, trainers were not qualified, and qualifications were awarded without evidence of competence.

Kellas filled out his own assessment forms, falsely claiming he had been assessed in Burwood. He also said he filled out assessment forms for other ‘students’ based on his wife’s notes, though he did not witness any assessments himself, and was not qualified to assess.

The inquiry also heard recordings of tapped phone conversations between Rebecca Taylor and her friend and former workmate Margaret Jarvie, who rang Taylor after she discovered IBAC investigators wanted to talk to her.

Jarvie claimed to have been trained in the Certificate IV in Engineering by Rebecca Taylor.

“What was my project again?” Jarvie asked Taylor.

Jarvie asked Taylor what would be in her student file, and was told that if investigators looked at it, they would find handwritten forms.

“Fuck, what if they check my handwriting,” she said.

Jarvie also expressed concern that “there’s going to be inconsistencies” between what she would tell investigators and what other people enrolled in the course would say.

Jarvie’s enrolment form contained incorrect information, including a declaration she had no previous qualifications — a necessary hurdle to receiving around $15,000 in public funding for the course.

The recorded conversation between Jarvie and Taylor continued:

“The only thing is if they’ve done any homework on my other quals,” Jarvie said.

In the hearing, Jarvie conceded she knew she would not be eligible if she had previous qualifications, and that the incorrect information was deliberate.

Taytell received Victorian funding for training Jetstar staff living and working in other states and were thus ineligible, the inquiry has heard. Some of the training was taking place in Sydney and Brisbane.

“Just remember it was all Melbourne,” Taylor told Jarvie, who was working at Jetstar at the time.

Jarvie conceded that the point of the conversation was for Taylor to instruct her how to respond to IBAC investigators, and that the information was false.

The inquiry also saw evidence Jarvie had received her job at Jetstar, which included organising training for staff, after providing a CV with false information. She claimed to have worked for Taytell several years before it was incorporated and that she had a Diploma of Engineering Management and a Diploma of Occupational Health and Safety. Taylor prepared the CV for Jarvie.

Jarvie was laid off from Jetstar in a restructure last month, she said.

The hearing was shown a group of later messages between Rebecca Taylor and her daughter and employee Heather Taylor around the time that people were beginning to complain they were enrolled without their knowledge.

“Fuck fuck fuck”, wrote Heather Taylor.

“Fuck it’s to do with a student Marg just called”, read another.

Jarvie also said she wasn’t aware she had been listed as the emergency contact for several Jetstar students and could not explain why this might have occurred.

IBAC Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan warned both Kellas and Jarvie midway through of their appearances that lying to the inquiry carried the potential for jail time, as each was slow to respond to questions.

The hearings continue, with Malcolm Kellas and Heather Taylor appearing Friday.

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