An engineer motivated by financial gain has been jailed for his involvement in a multi-million dollar Victorian public transport rort.

Darrel Salter was on Tuesday jailed for four years and five months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the state of Victoria and two counts of providing a secret commission following a scam involving state transport contracts.

“Corruption of this kind strikes at the heart of our civilised democracy,” Victorian Supreme Court justice John Dixon said, jailing Salter for a minimum three years.

The judge said Salter was third in the scheme’s hierarchy, behind public servants Barry Wells and Albert Ooi, who were responsible for managing projects for the Department of Infrastructure, the Department of Transport, and Public Transport Victoria.

The plot resulted in more than $17 million worth of government contracts being awarded to companies in which the pair held an interest.

Justice Dixon said that as an engineering consultant, Salter’s expertise was “pivotal and crucial” to the deception, and he paid secret commissions to Wells totalling more than $80,000 to secure his place in the conspiracy.

“You were fully aware at all times of what you were getting involved in,” he said.

The charges arose from an Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) probe into allegations of corrupt procurement in state transport departments.

The conspiracy lasted seven years, although Salter was involved for about four years and four months between 2009 and 2014, when 177 contracts were awarded, valued at more than $10.66 million.

His company Consalter received over $1.3 million in total, directly from state transport departments, and was also paid more than $437,000 for other work, including consulting and project management.

Justice Dixon said it has not been possible to calculate the loss to the state by his conduct, but noted it was a “very serious example of a conspiracy to defraud”.

“I am satisfied you obtained significant financial benefit from your offending conduct and that you were motivated by financial gain,” he said.

“You thought you could get away with it and, but for investigation by a specialist corruption commission, you might have.”

The judge took into account his guilty plea, prior good character and pledge to assist investigators.

Wells was previously jailed for a minimum of six years and three months, while Ooi was jailed for a minimum six-and-a-half years.


By Melissa Iaria