An engineer embroiled in a multi-million dollar public transport tender scam should not face the same punishment as two former Victorian bureaucrats who masterminded the scheme, a lawyer says.
Buckland resident Darrel Salter earlier in 2017 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the state of Victoria and two counts of providing a secret commission over a scam involving state transport contracts.
The complex scheme involved numerous companies run by Barry Wells and Albert Ooi, who were responsible for managing projects for the Department of Infrastructure, the Department of Transport, and Public Transport Victoria.
Wells was on Monday sentenced to a minimum of six years and three months in jail after pleading guilty to the sophisticated conspiracy.
Ooi was jailed in April for a minimum six-and-a-half years over the contracts scam.
Wells and Ooi’s fraudulent scheme ran for seven years and resulted in more than $17 million worth of government contracts being awarded to companies in which they held an interest.
Prosecutor Kevin Armstrong says Salter, an engineer, was third on the “totem pole” after Wells and Ooi.
“In terms of the hierarchy of roles, Salter comes in at number three,” he told the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday.
“Salter was fully aware of what he was getting involved in.
“He went in with his eyes open, so to speak.”
But defence barrister Diana Price says her client and his company, Consalter, were not “number three” but people who carried out the corruptly contracted work.
“They did the work. They built bus shelters. They built train stations,” she said.
“These men are the workers, each of them are there at the direction of Barry Wells (and) hoping, yes, to make some money for themselves.”
One of Salter’s charges relates to a $6000 cash kickback Wells received so he would favour Consalter and another company, Tactile, in the tender process.
Prosecutors say Salter contributed $1000 to that kickback.
Wells and Ooi netted more than $3.5 million in personal profit from the contracts they oversaw. Each has been ordered to repay their share of the illegal profits.
Salter’s plea hearing before Justice John Dixon continues.