NSW’s corruption watchdog will challenge a University of Sydney IT executive to explain $29,000 that landed in his bank account over 18 months as part of what ICAC alleges was a recruitment scam.
Hearings kicked off today in the case of Jason Meeth, a former head of ICT projects at the university, and his association with labour hire firm Canberra Solutions.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption alleges Meeth received the $29,000 between February 2012 and July 2013, during which time he is accused of working with the recruitment agency to make sure it placed candidates in his office.
ICAC claims an elaborate scheme of blackmail and standover tactics allowed at least nine Canberra Solutions contractors to be placed on jobs at the uni using the cover of accredited suppliers.
The university is alleged to have paid more than $1.6 million for contractors effectively on Canberra Solutions’ payroll.
It will explore the possibility of “any improper financial relationship” between Meeth and the owners of Canberra Solutions.
University of Sydney policy demands that only IT contractors from companies accredited through the NSW government’s C100 procurement panel be recruited.
The supplier in question, Canberra Solutions, was not accredited through C100, but witnesses are expected to testify Meeth used his decision-making authority to pressure third-party accredited companies into placing Canberra Solutions candidates.
ICAC claims Meeth would ask C100 accredited companies to contact Canberra Solutions’ Balu Moothedath, who would subsequently supply the names and resumes of IT contractors on his books to be subcontracted to the C100 firm and placed at the university.
Counsel assisting the commission, Warwick Hunt, said at least one witness, Greythorn consultant Davina Marshall, had “formed the view that if Greythorn did not work with Canberra Solutions as proposed by Mr Meeth, opportunities to propose candidates to the university might dissipate”.
The Canberra Solutions candidates, ICAC claims, were not vetted by the C100 firms and were often “wholly unsuitable” for the work they were assigned to.
ICAC also plans to tender evidence that Canberra Solutions was taking huge margins from the contractors placed at the university - in one case pocketing more of the daily rate paid by the university than the contractor themselves.
The commission has heard that Anuradha Batra worked at the university for a rate of $750 a day, but was told by Canberra Solutions she would receive a non-negotiable rate of $290.
The C100 firm that officially placed her - Greythorn - would take a standard 10 percent slice of the fee, leaving the remaining $385 a day to flow back to Moothedath and Canberra Solutions.
Hunt lamented that anti-corruption procedures put in place at the University of Sydney - in response a previous ICAC investigation into corrupt IT contractor placements - appeared to have been effectively “sidestepped” by Meeth and Canberra Solutions.
“Reliance on a code of conduct with the assumption that employees will have read it and, having read it, actually apply it in their dealings with and for the university, is regrettably insufficient to guard against the possibility of corrupt conduct,” he said.
Hearings continue this week.