Transport fraud trials continue
Nine men accused of running a multi-million-dollar public transport fraud ring in Victoria have been granted bail.
Strict conditions were imposed on the men - including two former state officials – who stand accused of defrauding the state of more than $20 million over an eight-year period from 2006 to 2013.
The allegations around former Department of Transport (now Public Transport Victoria) agent Barry Wells and former project officer Albert Ooi, along with Michael De La Torre, Graham Davis, Andrew Hayes, Darrel Salter, Todd Huggard and Samuel Furphy led to the corruption charges following an extensive Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) investigation into the department's procurement processes.
The group faces allegations of more than 100 offences, including conspiracy to cheat and defraud, obtaining financial advantage by deception, misconduct in public office, dealing in the proceeds of crime and receiving secret commissions.
The men appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a filing hearing on Monday, and were ordered to surrender their passports, not to contact witnesses or associate with each other.
The court heard the case would proceed as a “complex fraud committal”.
Court documents reveal Andrew and Albert Ooi and Wells are accused of conspiring to defraud Public Transport Victoria and the Department of Infrastructure of more than $20 million.
The court will hear that they did this in the form of lucrative contracts, in which they allegedly failed to disclose their personal interests.
Albert Ooi and Wells are alleged to have pushed government departments to award multi-million-dollar works contracts to a series of companies that the Oois, Wells and De La Torre allegedly benefited from.
Several of the civil works projects named in court documents involved multi-million-dollar figures.
Andrew Ooi and De La Torre are also charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime.
IBAC charge sheets allege Wells was the beneficiary of corrupt payments totalling tens of thousands of dollars from Salter, in addition to bribes in the form of a pergola, outdoor furniture and pool tiling from Davis, Hayes, Huggard, and Furphy.
Among the allegations is a claim that Wells was given outdoor furniture worth more than $21,000, pergolas worth more than $37,000 and swimming pool tiles worth more than $4,000, so that he would "show favour" to companies they stood to benefit from.
The men will return to court in November.