The alleged corruption scandal at Australian construction Leighton Holdings have led to a third former executive being forced out of his current role.
Russell Waugh, who was managing director of a joint venture between Leighton and Indian construction giant Welspun prior to leaving the company in August last year, has stepped down as engineering chief at engineering and property services company UGL after only weeks in the role.
Waugh’s departure is the third following reports in Fairfax Media last week alleging a culture in which widespread corruption and/or incompetence was rewarded and accusations he was aware of corporate kickbacks in Iraq and had been criticised over an investigation into an alleged black market racket in which $500,000 worth of steel was allegedly stolen from Leighton and used to build a ship in Indonesia late last decade.
Former top Leighton executives David Stewart and David Savage lost their positions this week at British firms Laing O’Rourke and Keller respectively.
In a statement, UGL says the decision reflects the best interest of UGL and did not represent any view held by the company regarding the allegations.
“In order to protect the best interests of UGL’s clients and key stakeholders, we have mutually agreed that the most appropriate outcome is for Russell to step down in order to privately defend the allegations being made against him” UGL Chief Executive Richard Leupen says.
The latest move comes as media comment surrounding the crisis at Leighton continues.
Yesterday, former Leighton Chief Financial Officer Scott Charlton questioned the governance model revolving around the company and its relationship with controlling shareholder Hochtief – the full concern about which was thrown into the spotlight earlier this year when independent board members staged a walkout alleging interference in Leighton’s governance affairs.
The developments also follow Leighton’s win of a $766 million contract to build a rail loop as part of the controversial Maules Creek Coal Project in New South Wales.