A former Victorian public servant will spend at least six years in jail for siphoning off millions of taxpayer dollars by corruptly awarding contracts to companies he controlled.

Albert Hoe Ooi, 66, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Melbourne to conspiring to defraud in the awarding of transport contracts and receiving a secret commission – a gift of expensive outdoor furniture.

Justice John Dixon sentenced Ooi to eight years with a minimum of six before he was led away by prison guards, past his distraught family, to jail for the first time.

“Corruption of this kind strikes at the heart of our civilised democracy,” Justice Dixon said on Thursday.

“You abused a position of high authority.”

Ooi’s offending took place between 2007 and 2014, and he personally profited by more than $2 million, the court heard.

In that time Ooi worked for the Victorian Department of Infrastructure, the Department of Transport and Public Transport Victoria, and was involved in selecting contractors for civil works projects.

He “masterminded” a fraudulent scheme to award transport works to various businesses he covertly controlled with the help of compliant family members and associates, Justice Dixon said.

As time went on, Ooi set up more companies and businesses to avoid the movement of money being detected.

The 66-year-old, who has suffered depression and sleep problems since his criminal activity came to light, sat with his eyes closed throughout Justice Dixon’s sentencing remarks, opening them only when roused by prison guards to stand.

He had been on bail since the charges were first laid and so was led away immediately afterwards to begin life behind bars.

Ooi farewelled his crying wife and children with a brief wave.


By Andi Yu