REVEALED: Flights, cash and special treatment inside council
THE Crime and Corruption Commission identified five cases of inappropriate conduct of an Ipswich councillor or senior executive officer.
They were included in its damning report at the conclusion of Operation Windage, a 22-month long investigation into Ipswich City Council.
Membership to exclusive club paid for by controlled company
INVESTIGATIONS during Operation Windage found that funds held by an Ipswich City Council-owned controlled entity were used to pay for business class flights, meals at expensive restaurants, accommodation and memberships to a private Brisbane-based club.
The directors of the controlled entity consisted of councillors and senior executive employees of the council.
The directors claimed the expenditure was for the purposes of planning Ipswich developments; however, it is believed it was for their own personal benefit and not that of Ipswich City Council or the community more generally.
Property developer donates in return for preferential treatment
OPERATION Windage identified that an Ipswich property developer had a close personal association with a councillor, which involved regularly socialising together.
It was highlighted that the property developer had donated a significant sum of money to the councillor's election campaign to ensure that the property developer would be "looked after" by the councillor and others within the Council.
In return for his political donation, the developer claimed that he received favourable treatment from the councillor in various situations, including applications for works being processed as a priority and support from the Council for his developments.
In addition to providing significant political donations to the election campaign, the developer's personal association allegedly ensured that he was favoured by the councillor in addressing issues that arose with his development applications.
Cash paid between councillor and property developer
OPERATION Windage identified that a councillor had developed a personal association with a property developer who had two active residential developments in Ipswich.
The developer was a regular guest of the councillor at council functions and they regularly socialised together.
They had planned to travel together to China to seek out business opportunities but the trip did not eventuate.
The developer regularly allowed the councillor to stay free of charge at inner-city units that he managed.
In exchange for this, the councillor allegedly assisted the developer expand his business interests by setting up meetings between the developer and other influential business people.
Investigations later uncovered that the developer inappropriately paid the councillor for his assistance setting up meetings with relevant council town planning staff and ensuring that applications relating to his developments in Ipswich were accelerated through council processes.
CCC reveals councillor interferes in payment of supplier invoices
A COUNCILLOR directly interfered in the council's processes to ensure that one of his associates, a business owner, was paid for work that had not yet been completed.
The business had been awarded a contract with Ipswich City Council but, due to delays receiving fixtures from a supplier, the project was not ever fully completed.
As the project had not been completed to the specifications within the contract terms, the final payment was not made. Investigations identified that the councillor directly contacted the council employee in charge of managing the project and requested that the business owner be paid in full, before the project was completed, which was against council policy and the terms of the contract.
When interviewed by the CCC, the council employee stated that he had never been contacted directly by the councillor in his 26-year career with the council and found it highly unusual, but complied with the councillor's request to make the final payment due to his senior position.
Senior executive employee accepts gifts from contractor
DURING Operation Windage, a senior executive employee was identified regularly attending social events with an associate who was a contractor.
The associate gave the senior executive employee tickets to horse racing events such as the Flemington Race Day in Melbourne in October 2016 to the value of $1450, Doomben Race Day in Brisbane in February 2017 and the Golden Slipper Race meet in Sydney in March 2017 at the cost of $400.
The associate also allegedly arranged for betting credits to the value of $5000 to be deposited into the senior executive employee's betting account.
In exchange for these gifts and benefits, it is alleged that the senior executive employee facilitated meetings between the associate and various town planners to ensure his associate was in a good position to win tender processes in Ipswich.
A review of the employee's gift register identified he had reported receiving the ticket to Flemington race day, however misreported the value of the ticket ($400 instead of $1450). The senior executive employee had not reported any of the other gifts or benefits provided by the contractor.