Rural Fire Service – allegations concerning catering supply and other matters (Operation Vika)

Year: 2015 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated allegations concerning alleged corrupt payments related to the supply of catering and other products to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) between 2009 and 2015. The Commission examined, amongst other matters, whether payments made by the RFS to catering companies controlled by Scott Homsey were induced by representations made by RFS employees (Arthur) John Hacking and Paul Springett, RFS volunteer Darren Hacking, and Mr Homsey, which they knew to be false or misleading, or by those persons concealing facts from the RFS that they had a duty to disclose.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 17 December 2015, the Commission makes findings of serious corrupt conduct against John Hacking, Scott Homsey and Gay Homsey. The Commission does not make any findings of serious corrupt conduct in respect of Paul Springett or Darren Hacking. 

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 John Hacking, Mr Homsey and Mrs Homsey for various offences.

The ICAC also makes four corruption prevention recommendations to the Rural Fire Service to help prevent the recurrence of the conduct exposed in this investigation in the future.


Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC found that John Hacking engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

  • accepting from Scott Homsey $1,500 in March 2012 and $3,000 in September 2012, the receipt of which he knew would tend to influence him to exercise his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey
  • accepting $403,882 from Mr Homsey and Gay Homsey between November 2012 and February 2015, the receipt of which he knew would tend to influence him to exercise his functions in favour of Mr Homsey and which did influence him to exercise those functions by facilitating and concealing the undersupply of snack packs to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and showing favour to Mr Homsey in relation to the business of the RFS
  • raising RFS purchase orders to Mr Homsey’s companies for snack packs and facilitating payment of Mr Homsey’s invoices between October 2012 and December 2014, knowing that the full amount ordered would not be supplied or had not been supplied to the RFS
  • taking mobile telephones and other electronic devices from the RFS without authority between March 2011 and December 2014.

The ICAC found that Scott Homsey engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

  • paying $1,500 to Mr Hacking in March 2012 and $3,000 in September 2012, the receipt of which he knew would tend to influence Mr Hacking to exercise his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey
  • paying $403,882 to Mr Hacking between November 2012 and February 2015, the receipt of which he knew would tend to influence Mr Hacking to exercise his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey and which did influence him to exercise those functions by facilitating and concealing the undersupply of snack packs to the RFS and showing favour to Mr Homsey in relation to the business of the RFS
  • submitting invoices to the RFS for snack packs between October 2012 and December 2014, knowing that the full amount ordered had not been supplied or would not be supplied to the RFS, and knowing that payments had been made, or would be made, to a public official from the profit of the undersupply.

The Commission found that Gay Homsey engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

  • assisting Mr Homsey to pay $38,000 to Mr Hacking in November 2012, the receipt of which she knew would tend to influence Mr Hacking to exercise his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey
  • assisting Mr Homsey to pay money to Mr Hacking between August 2014 and February 2015, knowing that the money was being paid as an inducement or reward for Mr Hacking exercising, or having exercised, his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey, by facilitating and concealing the undersupply of snack packs to the RFS.

Recommendations for prosecutions

The Commission must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether any prosecution should be commenced. The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions. The Commission provides information on this website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP. Accordingly, the Commission does not directly notify persons affected of advice received from the DPP or the progress of their matters generally.

The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of John Hacking for:

  1. receiving corrupt commissions or rewards, which he knew would tend to influence him to show favour to Mr Homsey in relation to the affairs or business of the RFS, contrary to section 249B(1)(b) of the Crimes Act 1900, in respect of the payments he received from Scott Homsey between March 2012 and February 2015
  2. by deception, dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage from the RFS or causing a financial disadvantage to the RFS pursuant to section 192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act, in relation to representations he made to the RFS in respect of Mr Homsey’s snack pack invoices during the 2012–13 fire season
  3. attempting to commit an offence against section 192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act, in relation to documents he created for the purpose of issuing an order for 100,000 snack packs to Mr Homsey in August 2014, and for representations he made to the RFS when facilitating payment of Mr Homsey’s invoices against that order
  4. larceny by a person in the public service under section 159 of the Crimes Act, in respect of the taking of mobile telephones and other electronic devices.

The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of Scott Homsey for:

  1. corruptly making payments to Mr Hacking, which he knew would tend to influence him to show favour to Mr Homsey in relation to the affairs or business of the RFS, contrary to section 249B(2)(b) of the Crimes Act, in respect of the payments he made to Mr Hacking between March 2012 and February 2015
  2. attempting to obtain a financial advantage, or cause a financial disadvantage, by issuing false invoices to the RFS between September and December 2014, contrary to section 192E(1)(b) of the Crimes Act
  3. giving evidence that was false or misleading at a compulsory examination on 14 April 2015 regarding Gay Homsey’s knowledge of payments to Mr Hacking, contrary to section 87(1) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988
  4. making false statements, or misleading or attempting to mislead, the Commission or an officer of the Commission, on 14 February 2015 regarding the payment of cash to Mr Hacking, contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act.

The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of Gay Homsey for:

  1. aiding Mr Homsey to pay corrupt commissions or rewards to Mr Hacking, in respect of payments made between November 2014 and February 2015, contrary to section 249F(1) of the Crimes Act
  2. giving evidence that was false or misleading at a compulsory examination on 14 April 2015 regarding her knowledge of payments to John Hacking, contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act.

A brief of evidence was provided to the DPP on 20 January 2016.

Updates

Arthur John Hacking

On 7 June 2016, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge Arthur John Hacking with:

  • 14 offences of corruptly receiving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(1)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 2 offences of dishonestly making statements, contrary to section 192G(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of giving to the office of the NSW Rural Fire Service a document which was misleading in a material respect contrary to section 249C(1) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of dealing with proceeds of crime contrary to section 193B(1) of the Crimes Act
  • 2 offences of wilfully making a false statement to an officer of the Independent Commission Against Corruption contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act
  • 3 offences of larceny by a person in the public service contrary to section 159 of the Crimes Act.

On 11 July 2016, court attendance notices were served on Mr Hacking. Mr Hacking entered pleas of guilty in relation to:

  • 12 offences of corruptly receiving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(1)(b) of the Crimes Act
  •  2 offences of larceny by a person in the public service contrary to section 159 of the Crimes Act.

The DPP withdrew two charges of corruptly receiving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(1)(b) of the Crimes Act, and one charge of dealing with proceeds of crime contrary to section 193B(1) of the Crimes Act.

On 25 August 2017, Mr Hacking was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of two years imprisonment to be served by way of an intensive corrections order pursuant to section 7(1) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 2009.

The following charges were placed on a Form 1 and taken into account on sentence:

  • 2 offences of dishonestly making statements, contrary to section 192G(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of giving to the office of the NSW Rural Fire Service a document which was misleading in a material respect contrary to section 249C(1) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of larceny by a person in the public service contrary to section 159 of the Crimes Act.

The offences of willfully making a false statement to an officer of the Independent Commission Against Corruption contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act were placed on a certificate under section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 and taken into account.

Scott Homsey and Gay Homsey

On 21 December 2017, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge Scott Homsey with:

  • 12 offences of corruptly giving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(2)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 3 offences of making a misleading statement with attempt to defraud, contrary to section 192G(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of giving misleading evidence in a Commission compulsory examination, contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act
  • 2 offences of wilfully making a false statement to a Commission officer, contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act
  • 1 offence of wilfully attempting to mislead a Commission officer, contrary to section 80(c) of the ICAC Act.

On 21 December 2017, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge Gay Homsey with:

  • 4 offences of being an accessory before the fact to corruptly giving a benefit, contrary to sections 249B(2)(b) and 346 of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of giving misleading evidence in a Commission compulsory examination, contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act.

On 19 January 2018, court attendance notices were served on Mr Homsey and Mrs Homsey.

On 22 February 2019, Scott Homsey entered guilty pleas in relation to:

  • 11 offences of corruptly giving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(2)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 3 offences of making a misleading statement with intent to defraud, contrary to section 192G(b) of the Crimes Act.

The charges under section 80(c) of the Crimes Act will be dealt with under section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Mr Homsey entered not guilty pleas in relation to:

  • 1 offence of corruptly giving a benefit, contrary to section 249B(2)(b) of the Crimes Act
  • 1 offence of giving misleading evidence in a Commission compulsory examination, contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act.

These matters have been listed for trial in the Sydney District Court, to commence on 26 August 2019.

On 22 February 2019, Gay Homsey's charges were remitted to the Downing Centre Local Court, and are listed on 22 May 2019.


Recommendations for disciplinary action

John Hacking has resigned from his position at the Rural Fire Service, so it is not necessary to consider any recommendation in relation to disciplinary or dismissal action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission has made four corruption prevention recommendations as follows:

Recommendation 1

That the Rural Fire Service (RFS), where possible, strengthens its logistics capabilities and modifies its procurement practices to reflect an overall logistics focus.

Recommendation 2

That the RFS continues to seek methods of integrating the Systems, Applications and Protocols (SAP) system and emergency manual controls in a way that does not impede speed and flexibility.

Recommendation 3

That all inventory relating to consumables held by the RFS be recorded as assets with their full value.

Recommendation 4

That consumables held in RFS inventory are expensed only when they leave inventory for a specific event or activity or because they have expired.
 

Response to ICAC recommendations

The action plan and report posted below have been provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Their publication here is to show the status of the response. It does not constitute approval or endorsement by the Commission.

Action Plan

12 month progress report

24 month progress report


Media Releases

ICAC finds former RFS officer and supplier corrupt

17 Dec 2015

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that former Rural Fire Service (RFS) contracts officer (Arthur) John Hacking engaged in serious corrupt conduct by accepting more than $408,000 from catering supplier Scott Homsey in payments intended to influence him to exercise his official functions in favour of Mr Homsey.

MEDIA ALERT: Operation Vika week 1 witness list now available

1 Jun 2015

Media are advised that the witness list for the first week of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Vika public inquiry into allegations concerning corrupt payments related to the supply of catering and other products to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) is now available on the Commission's website.

MEDIA ALERT: Public inquiry into allegations concerning corruption in NSW Rural Fire Service catering supply to start 2 June

28 May 2015

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Vika public inquiry into allegations concerning corrupt payments related to the supply of catering and other products to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) will now start at 10 am next Tuesday 2 June 2015.

Public inquiry into allegations concerning NSW Rural Fire Service catering supply and other matters

11 May 2015

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry starting on 1 June 2015 as part of an investigation it is conducting into allegations concerning alleged corrupt payments related to the supply of catering and other products to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) (Operation Vika).

Witness Transcripts

View all transcripts associated with this investigation. The Commission makes every effort to post the daily transcripts of its public inquiries on its website by 8:00 pm each day when possible. If the Commission sits later than 4:00 pm, the daily transcripts, particularly the afternoon session, may not be available until the next working day.

 

Exhibits

Vika Exhibit List (PDF)

Download exhibits associated with this investigation below.

Public notices