November 12, 2014 10:00PM
A WHISTLEBLOWER who filmed himself handing over a $20,000 bribe has accused authorities of covering up a ring of corrupt officials under investigation for rorting huge sums of public money.
The northern suburbs contractor recorded the handover of bundles of $100 notes to be shared among a cell of crooked senior V/Line officials.
He gave the money to a middleman — noting the cash withdrawal on his bank statement as “Corruption Money for V/Line”.
The contractor set up the “sting” after corrupt officials forced him into a position where he either had to bribe them or go broke because V/Line was refusing to pay him what he was owed for work done at Bendigo railway station.
But he says that since reporting the corruption to transport chiefs and police last year, authorities have sat on their hands.
One transport executive aware of the case yesterday called for a probe by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, saying he believed there may have been a cover-up ahead of the election.
A government spokesman last night confirmed Transport Minister Terry Mulder was briefed that police were investigating the case after a V/Line project manager was dismissed.
“Illegal and corrupt activity, whether it be unions on a building site or on the public transport network, will be pursued and prosecuted with the full force of the law,” the spokesman said.
The Herald Sun has agreed not to identify the whistleblower because of fears for his safety.
He has been warned that “Mafia” figures have been connected with organised corruption of public transport officials over many years.
“You can’t mention [name deleted] alongside my name because they’ll shoot me,” he told the Herald Sun this week.
The man he was referring to is a wealthy businessman with a long history of using “inside men” to win multiple V/Line tenders and then paying off the bent officials with large cash “slings”.
The whistleblower has been told “off the record” that V/Line’s internal investigators have been aware of entrenched corruption since at least 2007, but nothing effective has been done.
He believes he was deliberately chosen by the middleman, who introduced him to the senior V/Line engineer in late 2011 or early 2012. The contractor then picked up a string of V/Line maintenance jobs.
But it all changed after his new “friends” suggested he tender for a big job at Bendigo station early last year.
He later suspected he was misled over the scale of the job so he would be forced to ask for large variations, almost doubling his original $164,000 estimate.
A four-week job became a 13-week job; he faced bankruptcy if $120,000 more was not approved. Corrupt V/Line officials made it clear he wouldn’t be paid without a secret commission.
The engineer warned him not to discuss money on the phone, saying that if they “get recorded and get leaked somehow, you know it’s going to put me in deep shit’’.
Officials referred to more than one person at V/Line HQ demanding some of the bribe. The contractor believes at least one “pay office” staffer and another engineer were involved, in return for approving variations. The engineer was sacked in October last year.
The Herald Sun believes other employees have resigned to avoid being sacked.