Department of Justice officers and contractors found corrupt
Tuesday 22 November 2016
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that a former assistant director at the Department of Justice engaged in serious corrupt conduct by agreeing to improperly exercise his official functions by awarding contracts to two companies that were paid almost $1.3 million despite doing little or no work.
In its report, Investigation into the conduct of a senior officer of the Department of Justice and others, released today, the Commission finds that during 2013, Anthony Andjic, the assistant director of the Capital Works unit at the then Department of Attorney General and Justice Asset Management Branch, awarded contracts to Triton Group Co Pty Ltd and SAFF Projects Pty Ltd, contrary to relevant departmental procurement rules. The companies were owned by Shadi Chacra, who was in a personal relationship with Fayrouz Hammoud, the sister of Fatima Hammoud, another employee of the Department, who was in a personal relationship with Mr Andjic.
The Commission found that Mr Andjic, Mr Chacra and Fayrouz Hammoud engaged in serious corrupt conduct by agreeing that Mr Andjic would improperly exercise his official functions to financially benefit Mr Chacra and Fayrouz Hammoud by arranging for the awarding of the departmental project management contracts and construction work contracts for upgrade works to various courthouses, and a consultancy services contract, to Mr Chacra’s companies. This was although, contrary to departmental policy, neither Triton nor SAFF were on the NSW Department of Finance and Services list of pre-qualified contractors. It also contravened the Department’s project delivery methodology, which required the project manager to be independent of the construction contractor.
The Commission found that Mr Andjic arranged for project management contracts to be awarded to Mr Chacra and Fayrouz Hammoud, although he knew that neither of them had qualifications or experience as project managers. He also arranged for construction contracts to be awarded to Triton, despite knowing that Mr Chacra had limited construction experience. Mr Chacra and Fayrouz Hammoud submitted inflated invoices, including for work not actually done, without any apparent concern that this might be discovered by Mr Andjic and action taken against them, and Mr Andjic failed to scrutinise the Triton and SAFF invoices to ensure that the Department received value for money for the payments made to those companies.
At all relevant times, Mr Andjic knew that Fayrouz Hammoud was employed by SAFF and would benefit financially from any contracts awarded to SAFF. In her dealings with the Department, Fayrouz Hammoud used the alias “Fay Rouz”, with the knowledge of Mr Andjic, to disguise from departmental scrutiny that Triton and SAFF were owned by the same person, and that there was a connection between herself, Fatima Hammoud and Mr Andjic.
Mr Andjic and Fatima Hammoud engaged in serious corrupt conduct by agreeing to financially benefit Fatima Hammoud through the preparation and submission to the Department of an application by Fatima Hammoud for employment as a project development officer, which they both knew contained false information, with the intention that the false information would assist her to obtain a higher paying position within the Department, and Mr Andjic would improperly favour her in the selection process by recommending she be appointed to the position.
The Commission has made six corruption prevention recommendations to the NSW Department of Justice to help it prevent the recurrence of the behaviour that was examined in this investigation. These include that the Department ensures that the implementation of its upcoming capital works program contains a mechanism to periodically review the program to ensure that its projects remain consistent with its business strategy and operating environment, and that the Department develops a framework for governing its procurement activities that assigns governance roles and responsibilities for different types of procurement, and has mechanisms to detect non-compliance with procedural controls, such as the mandated use of pre-qualified suppliers.
The ICAC is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Andjic, Mr Chacra, Fayrouz Hammoud, Fatima Hammoud and Hakime Hammoud for various offences.
Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801