The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has made corrupt conduct findings against two former NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) project managers whose dishonest schemes resulted in them receiving corrupt payments totalling $2.4 million.
The ICAC’s report on its Investigation into tendering and payments in relation to NSW Fire Brigades capital works projects, released today, found that between late 2005 and 2007, NSWFB contractors Christian Sanhueza and Clive Taylor submitted false tenders and quotes to the NSWFB to manipulate the awarding of capital works contracts to companies controlled by Mr Sanhueza. The scheme affected 39 NSWFB projects, ranging from a major upgrade and a new station to repairs and maintenance.
The scheme resulted in the companies controlled by Mr Sanhueza receiving $6,075,120. After paying the subcontractors that did the actual work, Mr Sanhueza received at least $1,399,922 and Mr Taylor received $1,010,000. Mr Sanhueza used these proceeds to reduce the amounts he owed on properties at Ambarvale and Glen Alpine by more than $850,000, while Mr Taylor used his proceeds to purchase a farm and stock for about $586,000 and to reduce a mortgage on his home by about $226,000.
The ICAC referred the receipt of corrupt proceeds to the NSW Crime Commission, which obtained restraining orders against Mr Sanhueza and Mr Taylor. The Supreme Court has since made a proceeds assessment order against Mr Sanhueza for the sum of $950,000, and has also made an assets forfeiture order that the interest in specified property of Mr Taylor (a farm at Merriwa, two flatscreen televisions and a laptop computer) be forfeited to and vest in the Crown.
The ICAC has also made corrupt conduct findings against NSWFB contractor Rasem Guirguis, who supplied Mr Taylor and Mr Sanhueza with televisions and laptop computers as a reward for them continuing to award him NSWFB work.
Corrupt conduct findings are also made against another contractor, Soliman Hanna, who gave $1,000 each to Mr Sanhueza and Mr Taylor also as a reward for continuing to receive NSW FB work, and against another NSWFB worker, Patricia Xuereb, for improperly providing confidential NSWFB documentation and other information to Mr Sanhueza.
The Commission has identified systemic weakness at the NSWFB and has made 14 corruption prevention recommendations to the NSWFB to minimise or prevent similar corrupt conduct and improper work practices from recurring. The recommendations are made in relation to recruitment processes, capital works budgeting and estimating processes, and internal controls.
The Commission held a public inquiry, as part of this investigation, from 20 August 2008 to 3 September 2008. The ICAC Commissioner the Hon Jerrold Cripps QC presided at the inquiry at which 17 people gave evidence. The full report is available on the ICAC website at www.icac.nsw.gov.au .