ICAC finds former Department of Justice officer corrupt

Thursday 3 August 2017

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that a former Department of Justice officer engaged in serious corrupt conduct by accepting cash and benefits from an approved supplier, including assisting in the installation of a swimming pool at his home, in return for recommending that the supplier’s companies be allocated work.

In its report on Operation Artek, Investigation into the conduct of a former NSW Department of Justice officer and others, released today, the Commission finds that Leslie Reynolds, while a project manager at Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) and Asset Management Services (AMS) at the department, accepted cash payments of $24,000 from Khader George Ghamrawi of G&S Building Group Pty Ltd and Global Metal Works Pty Ltd, in return for exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work be allocated, and influencing others to allocate such work, to those companies.

Mr Reynolds also engaged in serious corrupt conduct by agreeing to receive a payment of $95,000 from Mr Ghamrawi at a future date, in return for recommending Mr Ghamrawi’s businesses for future work, and by influencing others to allocate such work to those companies. Mr Reynolds engaged further in serious corrupt conduct by accepting a benefit through saving in the vicinity of $40,000 to $50,000 when he used G&S to assist him with the installation of a swimming pool at his residence in around mid-2015 to mid-2016, again in return for exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work be allocated, and influencing others to allocate such work, to Mr Ghamrawi’s companies.

The Commission finds that Mr Ghamrawi engaged in serious corrupt conduct by providing the $24,000 to Mr Reynolds, and agreeing to supply $95,000 to him at a future date, and by providing the savings for the installation of the swimming pool.

Most of the cash that was supplied, and the money that was the subject of the future agreement, was in relation to the supply of gym equipment to CSNSW and Queensland Corrective Services by Global Metal Works. The assistance G&S provided to Mr Reynolds’ swimming pool installation meant Mr Reynolds only paid the trade costs, or “mates’ rates” for supplies or services. Mr Reynolds did not disclose to CSNSW management that he had engaged an approved CSNSW supplier to complete work at his house.

The ICAC has made 13 corruption prevention recommendations to the Department of Justice, to improve systems and practices, with the report noting that in both CSNSW and the Department, specifically AMS, the organisational systems surrounding minor capital works and maintenance at CSNSW facilities were inefficient and disordered. These recommendations include the need to review existing project scoping practices, develop accurate and comprehensive asset registers, improve budgetary management, and enhance contractor selection and monitoring procedures.

The Commission 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 Reynolds, Mr Ghamrawi and his wife, Samantha Boyle, for various offences.

The Commission did not hold a public inquiry into this matter, but instead determined to make a public report, given that a substantial amount of cogent evidence – including admissions made by Mr Reynolds and Mr Ghamrawi – was obtained during the investigation. Based on the evidence, it was unlikely that a public inquiry would uncover new evidence relevant to the investigation, however, a public report would make the community aware of the relevant conduct, system weaknesses, and set out corruption prevention recommendations. The report is available on the ICAC website at www.icac.nsw.gov.au.

Fact sheet

Full report