Department of Justice – allegations concerning former project manager (Operation Artek)

Year: 2017 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated allegations that Leslie Reynolds, a former project manager at the Department of Justice, received corrupt payments and benefits from Khader George Ghamrawi and his wife, Samantha Boyle, the principals of G&S Building Group Pty Ltd and Global Metals Works Pty Ltd.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 3 August 2017, the Commission makes serious corrupt conduct findings against Mr Reynolds and Mr Ghamrawi. The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Mr Reynolds, Mr Ghamrawi and Ms Boyle for various offences.

The Commission has made 13 recommendations to the Department of Justice to prevent the type of conduct exposed in the investigation from recurring.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC found that Leslie Reynolds engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

  • entering into an agreement with Khader George Ghamrawi, sometime on late 2014/early 2015, where he accepted cash payments from Mr Ghamrawi of $24,000, and agreed to receive a payment of $95,000 at a future date
  • accepting a benefit by way of a saving of around $40,000 to $50,000 when using G&S Building Group Pty Ltd to assist him with the installation of a swimming pool at his residence in around mid-2015 to mid-2016

in return for exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) work be allocated to Mr Ghamrawi’s businesses, G&S and Global Metal Works Pty Ltd, and influencing others to allocate such work to those companies.

The ICAC found that Khader George Ghamrawi engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:

  • providing $24,000 to Mr Reynolds, and agreeing with Mr Reynolds to give him $95,000 at a future date
  • providing a benefit by way of a saving of around $40,000 to $50,000 when installing a swimming pool at Mr Reynolds’ residence

in return for Mr Reynolds exercising his official functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work would be allocated to G&S and Global Metal Works and influencing others to allocate such work to those companies.

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 consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP with respect to the prosecution of the following:


Leslie Reynolds, for:

  • offences under section 249B(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 of receiving a corrupt commission or common law offences of misconduct in public office for receiving payments totalling $24,000 from Khader George Ghamrawi and having an agreement with Mr Ghamrawi to receive an additional $95,000 in return for Mr Reynolds exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that Corrective Services (CSNSW) work be allocated to G&S and Global Metal Works and influencing others to allocate such work to those companies.
     
  • an offence under section 87 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 of providing false and misleading evidence in relation to his evidence that he had not received any benefits from G&S or Global Metal Works.
     
  • offences under section 249B(1) of the Crimes Act of receiving a corrupt commission or reward, or common law offences of misconduct in public office, for receiving a benefit by way of a saving of between $40,000 and $50,000 when using G&S to install a swimming pool at his residence in return for exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work be allocated to G&S and Global Metal Works and influencing others to allocate such work to those companies.  
     

Khader George Ghamrawi, for:

  • offences under section 249B(2) of the Crimes Act of giving a corrupt commission or reward, or aiding and abetting common law offences of misconduct in public office for providing cash payments to Mr Reynolds in the amount of $24,000 and having an agreement with Mr Reynolds to make a payment of $95,000 at a future date in return for Mr Reynolds exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work be allocated to G&S and Global Metal Works and influencing others to allocate such work to them.
     
  • an offence under section 87 of the ICAC Act of providing false and misleading evidence in relation to his evidence that he did not provide any gifts or benefits to Mr Reynolds, did not have any discussions with Mr Reynolds, or play any role in the sale by Global Metal Works of gym equipment to CSNSW, and did not have any discussions with Mr Reynolds, or play any role in the sale by Global Metal Works of gym equipment to Queensland Corrective Services.
     
  • offences under section 249B(2) of the Crimes Act of giving a corrupt commission or reward, or aiding and abetting common law offences of misconduct in public office for providing a benefit by way of a saving of between $40,000 and $50,000, to Mr Reynolds when installing a swimming pool at Mr Reynolds’ residence in return for Mr Reynolds exercising his functions as a public official by recommending that CSNSW work be allocated to G&S and Global Metal Works.
     

Samantha Boyle, for:

  • offences of being an accessory after the fact to an offence under section 249B(2) of the Crimes Act by Mr Ghamrawi of giving corrupt commissions or rewards to Mr Reynolds for the purpose of influencing Mr Reynolds to improperly exercise his functions as a public official by allocating CSNSW work to G&S and Global Metal Works.
     
  • an offence under section 87 of the ICAC Act of providing false and misleading evidence in relation to her evidence that she was not aware that corrupt payments were being paid or promised to Mr Reynolds by Mr Ghamrawi.

Updates

A brief of evidence in relation to Leslie Reynolds was provided to the DPP on 23 August 2017. Briefs of evidence in relation to Khader George Ghamrawi and Samantha Boyle were provided to the DPP on 24 November 2017.

On 14 October 2021, the DPP advised that there is sufficient evidence to charge the following people with the following offences:

  • Leslie Reynolds with one count of receiving a corrupt commission and one count of the common law offence of misconduct in public office
  • Khader George Ghamrawi with one count of giving a corrupt commission or reward and one count of aiding or abetting common law offences of misconduct in public office.

On the same date, the DDP advised that there was insufficient evidence to charge Samantha Boyle. The Commission has accepted that advice.

Court attendance notices were served on Leslie Reynolds and Khader George Ghamrawi on 3 November 2021. On 30 November 2021, brief service orders were made for 8 February 2022 and the matters were listed for mention on 10 February 2022. On that date, the matters were adjourned to 24 March 2022 for charge certification. On that date, the matters were stood over to 21 April 2022 for charge certification. The delay was due to the late allocation of a Crown Prosecutor to certify. On 21 April 2022, the matters were adjourned until 23 June 2022 for case conferences.

On 23 June 2022, the matters were adjourned until 28 July 2022 to continue negotiations. On 28 July 2022, the matters were further adjourned to 25 August 2022. On 25 August 2022, the matters were further adjourned to 29 September 2022. On 29 September 2022, the matters were further adjourned to 20 October 2022 because the defence was still getting instructions.

On 20 October 2022, Leslie Reynolds was committed for sentence and his matter was listed for mention in the District Court on 28 October, while Khader George Ghamrawi’s matter was adjourned until 27 October 2022.  On 27 October 2022, Khader George Ghamrawi was committed for trial and his matter was listed for 25 November 2022 in the Sydney District Court for arraignment. On 25 November 2022, Khader George Ghamrawi’s matter was listed for trial on 13 March 2023 for 7 to 10 days. A readiness hearing was set down for 27 January 2023.

On 28 October 2022, Leslie Reynolds’ matter was listed for sentence in the Sydney District Court on 9 February 2023 with a disputed facts hearing. On 9 and 10 February 2023, Leslie Reynolds’ sentencing matter was heard in the Sydney District Court. Mr Reynolds was sentenced and received a three-year Community Corrections Order. On 17 March 2023, the District Court made a Pecuniary Penalty Order for the sum of $17,000 to be paid to the state by Mr Reynolds.

On 13 February 2023, Khader George Ghamrawi’s matter was listed for a pre-trial conference on 21 February 2023, and the previous readiness hearing was vacated and set down for 24 February 2023. The matter was set down for a readiness hearing on 24 March 2023.

On 15 March 2023, Khader George Ghamrawi pleaded guilty to Count 1 of giving a corrupt commission or reward. Count 2 in relation to aiding or abetting common law offences of misconduct in public office was withdrawn. Mr Ghamrawi was sentenced on Friday 26 May before Judge Hopkins and received a three-year Community Corrections Order.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

Leslie Reynolds resigned from his position at CSNSW. It is therefore not necessary to consider any recommendation in relation to disciplinary or dismissal action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The ICAC has made 13 corruption prevention recommendations to the Department of Justice, as follows:

Recommendation 1
That the NSW Department of Justice undertakes a review of its systems to identify ways to ensure that Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW)’s minor works program commences at the start of each financial year and that delays are minimised.

Recommendation 2
That the Department reviews its existing minor works scoping practices. This review should identify inefficient project scoping practices that delay the commencement of minor capital works programs. In particular, the practice of scoping minor works projects twice, once by CSNSW and once by Asset Management Services (AMS), should be examined.

Recommendation 3
That the Department continues to prioritise its development of accurate and comprehensive asset registers to facilitate detailed project scoping and timely completion of works.

Recommendation 4
That the Department revises its method for awarding minor works projects to include criteria other than cost.

Recommendation 5
That the Department analyses minor works expenditure at different levels of aggregation to highlight expenditure patterns, including the volume of work awarded to particular contractors.

Recommendation 6
That the Department takes steps to ensure competition between members of capital works panels. This could include increasing the number of approved and vetted suppliers that are prepared to compete for work.

Recommendation 7
That the Department clarifies its criteria for classifying maintenance, minor works and major capital works, and communicates these criteria to all stakeholders.

Recommendation 8
That the Department develops a service level agreement between AMS and CSNSW in relation to the provision of minor works and maintenance services that details the roles and responsibilities of each. This could include ensuring that both AMS and CSNSW have visibility over expenditure on CSNSW assets.

Recommendation 9
That the Department ensures that minor capital works are allocated separate, discrete project codes.

Recommendation 10
That the Department develops a performance management system that is used to inform the awarding of minor capital works projects. This should be based on a range of objective measures based on the time, cost and quality of the work performed.

Recommendation 11
That the Department ensures that the performance of minor works and maintenance contractors in NSW correctional centres is appropriately verified. Where relevant, this should include input from the asset owner within CSNSW.

Recommendation 12
That the Department reviews its subcontracting arrangements with facilities maintenance providers with a view to prohibiting “wash through” jobs. Relevant training for contractors and staff should reflect this requirement.

Recommendation 13
That the Department amends relevant documents, including its Code of Ethics and Conduct Policy, to provide that staff must declare departmental works contractors, who are providing goods or services to them in a private capacity, as a potential conflict of interest. Consideration should also be given to prohibiting staff from engaging contractors in a private capacity where they are involved in the selection and management of those contractors.

Response to ICAC recommendations

The action plan and progress reports posted below have been provided by the NSW Department of Justice in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Their publication here is to show the status of the responses. They do not constitute approval or endorsement by the Commission.

Final progress report - NSW Department of Justice

12 month progress report - NSW Department of Justice

Action plan - NSW Department of Justice

Media Releases Witness

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Download the Witness List (PDF)

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 Public notices

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