Oracle staffer caught dissing rivals during Ultranet tender period

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Oracle staffer caught dissing rivals during Ultranet tender period

Plot thickens in IBAC's first week of hearings.

A former Oracle employee and member of the team bidding for work with the Victorian Education department's infamous Ultranet project has admitted to badmouthing other bidders during the tender evaluation period.

State corruption watchdog IBAC last week held its first tranche of hearings into the project.

From the stand, Oracle Ultranet tender team member Greg Martin owned up to dissing a competing bidder to Education deputy secretary Darrell Fraser during the period when communications between bidders and officials was strictly off limits.

Martin admitted to sending an email - dug up by IBAC investigators - in which he accused rival tenderer RM Asia-Pacific of “pulling the wool over lots of people’s eyes in the [Education department]”.

“We were very surprised that one of RM’s senior managers is looking to leave them on the eve of this tender announcement,” Martin wrote in the email.

He also gave Fraser - a member of the Ultranet project board - a heads up on the ‘best and final offer’ price to be submitted by his Oracle consortium, which at $100 million was $57 million less than previous quotes.

The message is the second to be unveiled so far by IBAC from the anonymous ‘growlerbarman’ email account used by Martin to channel messages and documents to Fraser via the official’s daughter.

In the email, Martin laments all the “probity crap” involved in the tender process, but was quick to deny to IBAC that the comment pointed to a disregard for anti-corruption rules.

“It was long-winded and it was difficult, and it did sometimes get on my nerves. But ... that’s not to say I didn’t think it was important,” he told the hearing.

Undercutting

On the final day of hearings, Martin’s one-time business partner Greg Tolefe also admitted to undercutting his fellow directors during the sale of their Ultranet-specific consultancy CingleVue.

He acknowledged he obtained a $10 million windfall from the sale of the business he set up with Martin and fellow IBAC target Frank Aloisio, which offered consultancy services to a consortium going after the Ultranet deal.

It was offloaded to CSG in 2008 despite having no staff and no discernible assets.

IBAC counsel Ian Hill QC has suggested CingleVue's only asset was its worryingly close ties to members of the Ultranet tender evaluation team.

Tolefe admitted he had kept the true sale price of $11 million from his fellow directors, who between them pocketed $1 million of the transaction value while he took the rest.

Hearings continue this week.

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