A former Victorian public servant who pocketed millions of dollars by corruptly awarding infrastructure contracts wants his eight-year jail term reduced, claiming the projects were still done.
Albert Hoe Ooi, 66, worked for the state government when he awarded civil works contracts to companies he controlled between 2007 and 2014, personally profiting by more than $2 million.
Ooi was jailed for eight years in April but is seeking a review in the Court of Appeal, saying he didn’t get enough of a discount for promising to give evidence against his co-accused.
Defence lawyer Chris Carr says Ooi was profoundly sorry for what he did and his crimes caused no “determinable” loss to the government.
“There was no finding that there had been any higher prices paid than would otherwise have been paid,” Mr Carr told the court on Thursday.
“The work had been done to an appropriately high standard.”
Ooi was jailed with a non-parile period of six-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the state and one count of accepting a secret commission.
The second charge related to a gift of outdoor furniture valued at $6700 which Ooi received from Furphy Foundry, a business seeking to win government contracts.
It added six months to Ooi’s jail term but Mr Carr argued the sentencing judge did not adequately assess the gravity of this charge.
“He was someone who was offered some free furniture and accepted it,” Mr Carr said.
Prosecutor Christopher Boyce said the sentence was appropriate as this was no ordinary “dodgy accountant” fraud case.
“It’s one thing for a dodgy accountant to steal from his or her employers,” Mr Boyce said.
“But in this case we are talking about someone within the government that taxpayers trust.”
Ooi worked for the Victoria’s infrastructure and public transport departments and was responsible for more than $15.3 million in government contracts awarded in an uncompetitive process.
In one instance, a company controlled by Ooi was awarded 92 government contracts. He also used false invoices to buy jet skis and a $15,000 piano for himself.
Sentencing judge John Dixon said the offences were motivated by “personal greed”.
Justice Pamela Tate will decide whether Ooi’s appeal will be heard by the full Court of Appeal at a future date.