A former ICT manager at Sydney University engaged in “serious corrupt conduct” a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry has found.
The state anti-corruption body announced in October it would conduct a public inquiry into allegations of corrupt conduct by ICT manager Jason Meeth at the University of Sydney.
In findings issued today ICAC said that Meeth had “improperly exercised his public official functions” to favour Balu Moothedath and Moothedath's company, Canberra Solutions, when engaging ICT contractors.
In early 2013 Meeth was appointed head of the project management office within the university's ICT business unit.
ICAC found that between February 2013 and July 2013, Meeth arranged for nine Canberra Solutions ICT contractors to be engaged by Sydney University.
“In each case, Mr Meeth had arranged for the contractors to be nominated through an accredited supplier of ICT contractors when, in fact, they were Canberra Solutions contractors,” ICAC said in its findings.
“Canberra Solutions benefitted financially from this arrangement, receiving $1.6 million from the university, of which it kept approximately $800,000 as profit.”
“The Commission found that, in 2012 and 2013, Mr Meeth engaged in serious corrupt conduct by improperly exercising his functions as a university official by giving preferential treatment to Canberra Solutions in the selection of Canberra Solutions candidates to work at the university as ICT contractors,” the ICAC report states.
Meeth “controlled the recruitment of ICT contractors at the university in order to recruit Canberra Solutions contractors,” ICAC’s report states.
“He did this despite some of the Canberra Solutions contractors lacking appropriate skills and expertise to properly undertake the work for which they were engaged. Mr Meeth also took steps to disguise the university’s use of Canberra Solutions on official university documentation and did so because he knew that it was contrary to university policy.”
While evidence obtained during investigations “may suggest that Mr Meeth did receive cash payments from Mr Moothedath,” there was no direct evidence available to the inquiry to find that Moothedath did pay Meeth, ICAC found.
“After having carefully considered the available evidence, the Commission has accepted the submission of Counsel Assisting that the fact and scale of any financial benefit flowing to Mr Meeth from Mr Moothedath cannot be established to the requisite standard,” the report states.
The report said that as a result the anti-corruption watchdog was not satisfied there was enough admissible evidence available to seek prosecution of Meeth.
However, ICAC recommended that advice be obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as to the possible prosecution of Moothedath for allegedly giving false and misleading evidence and attempting to procure false and misleading evidence.
Despite “unscrupulous profiteering in his management of Canberra Solutions,” ICAC said that the evidence available to it “does not substantiate any finding that Mr Moothedath engaged in corrupt conduct within the definition of that term in the ICAC Act”.
University welcomes ICAC findings
“The University of Sydney welcomes the findings of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption of serious corrupt conduct by former ICT manager Jason Meeth,” a university spokesperson said.
“The university is deeply disappointed that a former employee has engaged in conduct which has resulted in a financial benefit being corruptly provided to a third party.”
ICAC said that the university had put more in place more tightly controlled labour-hire processes. As a result ICAC said it did not need to issue recommendations for further corruption-prevention measures to the university.
“As the commission has acknowledged, the university has made extensive changes to its labour-hire processes with a view to preventing any further corrupt conduct of this nature,” the spokesperson said.
Last year ICAC found another former Sydney Uni IT manager had engaged in corrupt conduct. The organisation referred its findings to the DPP for possible prosecution.
The anti-corruption body also recently investigated alleged fraud involving a TAFE IT manager. In findings released this year ICAC said that the IT manager abused his position to corruptly obtain more than $1.76 million.