A FORMER University of New England (UNE) employee who was wined and dined by contractors in exchange for awarding them work has been found guilty of corrupt conduct by the state’s corruption watchdog.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) released its verdict on the investigation of the former campus services manager, Colin McCallum, yesterday.
Mr McCallum worked at UNE from 2003 up until 2011, when the ICAC allegations first came to light.
Yesterday’s decision came after seven months of deliberation and a five-day public inquiry at which 14 witnesses gave evidence at the start of the year.
Mr McCallum was found guilty of awarding security and cleaning contracts to three different companies that treated him to lavish meals, race day and rugby tickets and hotel accommodation packages on numerous occasions.
ICAC also found him guilty of approving bogus invoices that allowed the Sydney-based contractors to be paid money from UNE they weren’t entitled to.
Quad Services Pty Ltd was contracted to undertake $1.2 million of cleaning work at the university annually.
Investigations found Quad Services issued $29,000 in invoices for additional work that was never completed, while security firm Sydney Night Patrol and Inquiry Services issued invoices of about $19,400 for work it did not undertake.
It was also found that Prosys Services Pty Ltd, which undertook security access system work at the university, also submitted a false invoice that Mr McCallum approved, worth about $7000.
As a result of the inquiry, ICAC has recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) consider prosecuting Mr McCallum.
It also recommended the DPP take action against the former operations manager of Sydney Night Patrol, Martin McLean, for issuing false invoices worth almost $20,000 to the university.
There was also a recommendation that UNE addresses a number of weaknesses in its procurement processes, including a zero tolerance on gifts and benefits from service suppliers.
UNE released a statement late yesterday afternoon in response to the findings, saying it would implement all the recommendations.
UNE vice-chancellor Professor Jim Barber said UNE had already undertaken significant reforms to strengthen its corruption prevention controls and work was underway to ensure rigorous checks and balances on the purchasing of goods and services.