Secret video puts evidence in doubt in Sydney Uni IT saga

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Secret video puts evidence in doubt in Sydney Uni IT saga

Recruiter warned of consequences of lying to ICAC.

One of the men at the heart of a University of Sydney IT contracting scandal being investigated by ICAC has been accused of colluding with another witness.

Balu Moothedath was today shown covertly filmed footage of a secret meeting in his Toyota Camry.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating former University of Sydney IT projects manager Jason Meeth over claims he used his position to place contractors for recruitment firm, Canberra Solutions, in return for a bribe.

Canberra Solutions boss Moothedath is also accused of asking one of the contractors, Pranav Shanker, to lie to the commission after the investigation had kicked off.

Shanker earlier this week told the commission he had met Moothedath for up to two hours in Moothedath’s car in North Sydney in June this year, and that Moothedath had told him to lie to ICAC investigators about the allegedly falsified employment of Shanker's  wife.

He said his wife Pooja Naik, who was unemployed at the time, was paid a wage of $2215 a month by Canberra Solutions despite not doing any work for them.

Shanker would then withdraw that same amount from their joint bank account and return it to Moothedath in cash. In return, Pooja Naik would keep the superannuation paid in her name.

Shanker said his former boss had instructed him to tell ICAC investigators that Naik had been placed within a call centre by the firm if topic came up.

Moothedath denied discussing the investigation at what he described as a chance meeting with Shanker that lasted no more than a few minutes.

He was subsequently shown video secretly filmed by ICAC investigators of him speaking to Shanker inside his Toyota Camry, parked on a North Sydney street.

He then conceded to the commission that he did in fact meet with Shanker, but continued to deny that he asked Shanker to lie about his wife’s employment with Canberra Solutions.

Commissioner Megan Latham warned Moothedath that lying to ICAC potentially carried a custodial sentence.

“It is being suggested to you that in several respects in your evidence today that you have lied to the commission,” she said.

“If you are convicted it is open to someone to send you to jail...Can you please reflect on that before we continue with your questioning?”

Moothedath has also been accused of exploiting foreign and desperate workers willing to accept low daily wages so Canberra Solutions could gouge margins sometimes in excess of 50 percent from their temporary contracts at the University of Sydney.

The commission heard one Indian contractor was told she could not receive more than $290 a day because she had not worked in Australia before. The daily rate paid to Canberra Solutions was $750.

Another contractor placed at Sydney Uni told the commission he accepted the low rate because he considered the job a “stop-gap” that would give him flexibility to travel overseas at short notice to see his sick father.

“The reason you were able to get these people to agree to low rates was because they were desperate for work. There weren’t passive job seekers, were they?” counsel assisting the commission, Warwick Hunt, asked Moothedath.

The commission also claims Moothedath devised complex subcontracting documents to hide the daily rate being paid by the university from the contractors.

Moothedath contended he was under no obligation to be transparent about what he was receiving in fees.

Hearings continue.

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