A public servant who received $1.37 million in kickbacks from Victorian Government contracts has been jailed for eight years and nine months.
Handing down his judgment in the Victorian Supreme Court, Justice John Dickson sentenced former Public Transport Victoria senior executive Barry Wells to a sentence of nine years over a sophisticated scam in which he and six others conspired to defraud the State of Victoria in the awarding of public works contracts over a seven-year period spanning January 1 2007 to January 9 2014 and in three charges of receiving secret commissions.
Well’s offending arose out of his employment variously with the Victorian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Department of Transport and Public Transport Victoria which began with DOI and DOT on April 13 2006 and with PTV from 2012.
Throughout this time, he was the ‘Manager, Bus and Regional Infrastructure’ and was responsible as a project manager for civil and infrastructure works.
These included the construction of bus stops and railway station car parks.
Along with his principal co-offender Albert Ooi, Wells conspired to defraud the State by awarding works contracts to contractors in whose firm one or both held and undisclosed interest or recommending such contractors be awarded work.
Between 1 January 2007 and 10 August 2009, for instance, a company known as Property Services Network (PSN) was awarded 32 civil works contracts totalling more than $1.175 million.
PSN was covertly controlled by the two, but their interests in the company were not disclosed.
Various other such arrangements saw a total of $17 million awarded to related companies with conflict of interest.
Although the contracts were awarded in an uncompetitive market, the court was told it was impossible to assess whether or not the State Government paid more for the contracts compared with what it otherwise would have.
In sentencing, Dickson slammed Wells’ conduct.
“In essence, government policies and procedures designed to ensure an open and fair competitive system for awarding government works contracts were corrupted,” Dickson wrote in his judgement.
“In your duties, you were required to act impartially and to declare any conflict of interest. You consistently and dishonestly failed to declare your conflicts of interest and received considerable personal financial benefit.”
Wells will be eligible for parole in six years and three months.
Ooi, for his part, was sentenced to eight years’ jail with a minimum six years earlier this year after pleading guilty and offering to give evidence against Wells.