ICAC issues corruption finding against TAFE IT manager

Advice should be sought from Director of Public Prosecutions on possible criminal charges, corruption watchdog says

A former TAFE ICT manager abused his position to corruptly obtain more than $1.76 million, according to the findings of a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

ICAC today released the findings of the inquiry into allegations against Ronald Cordoba, a former acting ICT manager at the TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute (SWSI).

ICAC found that Cordoba should potentially face criminal prosecution for fraud and misleading the commission.

The anti-corruption body launched its public inquiry in July 2015 after receiving a report in September 2014 that Cordoba had used his position to improperly raise purchase orders and authorise payments to ITD Systems.

It was alleged that ITD was secretly owned by Cordoba.

Public hearings into the allegations were held in August and September last year.

ICAC’s report said that in February 2014 Cordoba “engaged in serious corrupt conduct by improperly exercising his official functions to ensure that the SWSI engaged Cloud People as its contractor to provide ‘virtual labs’ with the intention of obtaining for his business, ITD Systems, a benefit of $55,000 from Cloud People; a benefit that was received.”

In addition, between January and July 2014, Cordoba “engaged in serious corrupt conduct by improperly exercising his official functions to obtain $1,709,904.90 from the SWSI for his business, ITD Systems.”

SWSI has been contacted for comment.

ICAC made a number of recommendations to strengthen corruption prevention at the institute.

They included periodic scrutiny of expenditure involving out-of-contract suppliers, regular analysis of vendor payments, and formal project management and governance structures to oversee ICT projects.

In a statement the institute said that it welcomed ICAC's recommendations.

"TAFE SWSI has already implemented improvements to its systems and processes to reduce the risk of a similar occurrence in future and these fully address the recommendations of the ICAC," the statement said.

"While TAFE SWSI recognises that its systems and processes were not perfect, we believe the fraud was detected because of the professionalism and diligence of our staff, despite the complicated and extreme actions taken by Mr Cordoba to commit the fraud that he perpetrated.

"Once we identified the possible fraud we acted swiftly and appropriately. We reported the fraud to the ICAC, which has the appropriate authority and resources to investigate such matters. We cooperated fully with the ICAC investigation. We will continue to cooperate in full with a possible investigation by the DPP, as well as with any other relevant authorities that might become involved."

The institute said that it was seeking legal advice about recovering funds from Cordoba.

Last year ICAC issued a corruption finding a former IT manager at the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. The finding related to the payment of false invoices.

In October last year the corruption watchdog launched a public inquiry into alleged corrupt recruitment of ICT contractors at Sydney University.

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is currently conducting public examinations into the state education department’s $180 million Ultranet project.

‘Operation Dunham’ is examining allegations of corruption linked to the project.

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Tags TAFEIndependent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)corruptionICAC

More about ICACIndependent Commission Against CorruptionMacquarie UniversitySouth Western Sydney InstituteSydney InstituteTAFETAFE NSWUniversity of NewcastleUniversity of Sydney

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