Bugged calls track downfall of allegedly corrupt Ultranet "empire"

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Bugged calls track downfall of allegedly corrupt Ultranet "empire"

Official admits lying about secret share purchase.

Secretly intercepted phone calls have captured panicked conversations between officials at the heart of Victoria's Ultranet scandal, as the tales of their alleged misdealings faced public exposure.

In the second last day of public hearings into the failed Ultranet project, Victoria’s corruption watchdog, IBAC, produced expletive-laden recordings of phone calls between disgraced former Department of Education executive John Allman and his colleagues, including then-boss Darrell Fraser.

In one call, made in the weeks before accusations of insider trading and procurement favouritism were published in The Age, fellow department employee Matt Dunkley accuseds Allman of destroying evidence that he claimed could implicate him in Ultranet dodgy dealing.

You “destroyed all the evidence as soon as you knew – as soon as you knew the f-----g empire was gone, mate,” Dunkley is recorded as saying.

In another recording produced by IBAC, made in the days after the Ultranet allegations broke in late 2014, Allman tells Fraser that Department of Education secretary Richard Bolt “f-----g brought me undone yesterday” over undisclosed share purchases Allman had made in Ultranet contractor CSG.

Allman admitted before IBAC he had bought 12,300 shares in CSG at 78 cents each, two days before the company announced to the ASX it had successfully secured the $60 million Ultranet deal alongside software partner Oracle.

He said he’d been alerted to CSG’s role in the deal by overhearing a hands-free phone conversation between his fellow education officials in a car.

He also admitted to lying about the origins of the purchase to forensic auditors from KPMG, who had been assigned to investigating his failure to disclose interests in the firm.

Despite the revelations - and despite secret recordings where Allman claimed Fraser “broke every f-----g rule in the book and spent millions of dollars he shouldn’t have spent” - Allman maintained there was no corruption or personal interest driving the actions of himself and his department associates.

He said Fraser, who was deputy secretary in charge of the department’s schools office at the time, was “very prone to act quickly and deliberately to make things happen” and sometimes skirted rules and regulations in the process.

“I never saw him as a person that would deliberately … take anything for his own personal gain,” Allman said.

Allman was sacked by the Department of Education in April last year, following revelations from another IBAC investigation that he deliberately destroyed financial documents related to the probe by throwing them into a bin at his local Bunnings hardware store.

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