Another council employee caught out selling his soul, corruptly accepting cash and gifts for contracts and the like…Does it ever end.These bums are like the drug trade. Authorities only catch 10% of the greedy buggers….Have a look at him posing with the boat he got with his hard earned…NOT
A SENIOR council official who accepted a boat in return for awarding contracts should be considered for possible criminal charges, the corruption watchdog says.
Hedley Higgs, operations manager for the City of Canada Bay Council, in Sydney’s inner west, was referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over allegations he received financial and non-financial benefits from contractors.
In its findings released today, the commission said Mr Higgs received a Quintrex 470 Top Ender boat worth $32,000 from Thomas David Turner, a contractor who provided concreting services to Canada Bay Council.
The ICAC recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) consider criminal action against Mr Higgs.
“Mr Higgs also engaged in corrupt conduct by arranging for Mr Turner to do free work at his house in return for favouring Mr Turner’s company, Jet Civil Pty Ltd, in the awarding of council work,” ICAC said in a statement.
The ICAC further determined Mr Higgs acted corruptly by soliciting and receiving money from Ezy Bobcat proprietor Ahmad Hraichie.
In return, he told Mr Hraichie how much he should quote to win a council contract.
“The commission is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP be sought in relation to the prosecution of Mr Higgs for various offences including receiving corrupt rewards from Mr Turner and Mr Hraichie, giving false or misleading evidence to the ICAC and fabricating a document with the intent to mislead the commission,” the statement said.
The commission also suggests Mr Turner be investigated by the DPP for his part in the activities.
A four-day ICAC hearing chaired by David Ipp in July heard from 13 witnesses and was presented with evidence including photographs of Mr Higgs posing with the boat.
ICAC story from July 2010
After one explosive week, the Independent Inquiry Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into Canada Bay Council’s senior staffer Hedley Peter Higgs has ended.
While Mr Higgs’ fate has yet to be determined, the investigation has revealed the council failed to put in place appropriate checks and balances to keep alleged corrupt practices out of its tender processes.
Throughout the week, the commission called on various witnesses including the council’s general manager Gary Sawyer, senior officer John Osland and former council contractor Ahmad Hraichie.
In astonishing testimony, Mr Hraichie outlined a system of alleged corrupt payments he paid to Mr Higgs over 10 years.
“… There was a kind of language spoken between contractors so we understood that it meant … you’ve got to give him cabbage, which meant money,” Mr Hraichie told the inquiry.
To secure the tender for the Wareemba Project in 2008 he said he paid Mr Higgs three cash payments of $2000.
He said payments would be made at Little Hen and Chicken Bay, during the day.
“What he’d do is he’d park (his car) near the track, put his vest on, go for a walk like he’s inspecting the footpaths and that.
“The door would be open, the passenger side door, I’d just put it on the front seat and keep walking,” he said.
Mr Hraichie said he had chosen to come forward to give evidence against Mr Higgs because he had stopped being awarded council contracts and was angry about it.
The inquiry previously heard Mr Higgs had received cash other payments and gifts, including a $32,000 boat.
Mr Higgs’ 84-year-old mother also gave evidence. She said she had withdrawn large sums of cash, in the order of $20,000, a few times since 2004 and given them to her son as gifts.
These payments, argued Mr Higgs’ defence, had helped him pay off a $300,000 mortgage in four years.
On the hearing’s final day, while questioning witness and council director of technical services and operations, John Osland, counsel assisting the commissioner Greg Curtin said the council policy needed a “radical” change.
” The impression I get that this sort of thing, this kind of bribery, if you call it that, happens really at a pretty small level of contractors,” Mr Curtin said.
“… The kind of thing that Mr Hraichie described is something that I imagine would be more prevalent amongst small contractors in small contracts rather than major contractors in big contracts?”
Mr Osland replied that “he believed that may be the case”.
Since the ICAC investigation had begun, Mr Osland said the council was examining a number of ways to improve its tender processes. These included all staff being required to attend regular code of conduct meetings.
He said an external audit committee had been established to independently examine council tenders.
It is anticipated the committee will meet quarterly and will be made up of councillors, staff, external auditors and people from other councils.
Commissioner David Ipp will table a report on the inquiry in the coming months.