Roads and Maritime Services – allegations concerning employees’ awarding of contracts (Operation Ember)

Year: 2022 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated whether, between July 2015 and February 2019, RMS employees Samer Soliman and Jainesh (Jai) Singh partially and dishonestly exercised their official functions in relation to the awarding of contracts to Novation Engineering Pty Ltd and AZH Consulting Pty Ltd.

The contract work included scoping studies, field trials and the supply of equipment and parts. Two contracts awarded to Novation Engineering Pty Ltd in 2018 for the replacement of RMS’ portable weigh scale assets totalled over $9 million in value. It was alleged that Mr Soliman received a financial benefit for his role in helping to secure the work awarded to both companies

In its report on the investigation, made public on 20 May 2022, the Commission makes findings of serious corrupt conduct against Samer Soliman, Stephen Thammiah, Ali Hamidi and Jainesh (Jai) Singh.

The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of Samer Soliman, Stephen Thammiah and Ali Hamidi for various offences.

The Commission has made seven recommendations to help Transport for NSW (TfNSW), of which RMS is now part, prevent the conduct identified in the investigation from recurring.

Findings of corrupt conduct

Download the Operation Ember findings of corrupt conduct (pdf)

Recommendations for prosecutions

Download the Operation Ember recommendations for prosecutions (pdf)

Recommendations for disciplinary action

Samer Soliman’s employment with RMS was terminated for serious misconduct with effect from 26 February 2019. Accordingly, the question of whether consideration should be given to the taking of action against him for a disciplinary offence or the taking of action with a view to his dismissal, does not arise.

Jainesh (Jai) Singh’s employment with RMS was terminated with effect from 16 May 2019. Accordingly, the question of whether consideration should be given to the taking of action against him for a disciplinary offence or the taking of action with a view to his dismissal, does not arise.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission has made seven recommendations to help Transport for NSW (TfNSW), of which RMS is now part, prevent the conduct identified in the investigation from recurring.

Recommendation 1

That Transport for NSW (TfNSW) updates and reissues its online training and other awareness-raising products relating to conflicts of interest, fraud and corruption prevention and procurement. TfNSW should also consider delivering customised training to staff who manage high-risk programs and budgets.

Recommendation 2

That TfNSW:

  • reviews all supplier panels created or used by the former Compliance and Regulatory Services (CaRS) Division (that remain in existence) with a view to assessing compliance with past and current procurement policy, any undisclosed conflicts of interest or similarities with the conduct identified in this investigation
  • considers mandating additional oversight or involvement by agency procurement experts in the formation and maintenance of all TfNSW supplier panels.

Recommendation 3

That TfNSW considers requiring use of a secure, electronic system for seeking quotations from suppliers. The system should prevent staff from opening RFQ responses before the due date.

Recommendation 4

That TfNSW revises its supplier due diligence procedures. This could include but not be limited to:

  • enhancing the suite of checks that are performed by Transport Shared Services when adding new suppliers to the vendor master file
  • identifying new suppliers that may not have the necessary credentials, capability or experience
  • strengthening procedures for conducting referee checks.

Recommendation 5

That TfNSW develops a data analytics program aimed at detecting suspicious conduct including but not necessarily limited to:

  • order-splitting
  • recently registered suppliers or suppliers that are not registered for GST
  • consecutively numbered invoices
  • misuse of delegations
  • POs associated with budgets not controlled by the approver
  • goods and services that are receipted shortly after the PO has been raised.

Recommendation 6

That TfNSW develops a register of heavy vehicle enforcement assets. This register should be used as the basis for future procurement strategies and decisions to replace or maintain assets.

Recommendation 7

That TfNSW performs a “lessons learnt” exercise or audit based on the findings from this investigation. This could include an examination of:

  • whether the weaknesses identified in the HVP Unit exist elsewhere in TfNSW
  • business units that lack adequate supervision
  • procurement governance and reporting
  • the need for a new corruption risk assessment
  • substantial procurements that proceeded without a procurement strategy
  • whether the scope of responsibility and resourcing of the procurement advisory function is sufficient
  • whether the devolved procurement framework provides sufficient assurance regarding value for money and compliance.

Media Releases

ICAC finds former RMS manager corrupt for awarding over $12.2 million in work to benefit friends and himself

20 May 2022

The ICAC has found that a former manager of the then-Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) engaged in serious corrupt conduct through the awarding of over $12.2 million in work to two companies owned by his friends and manipulating processes to favour and benefit those businesses and himself.

MEDIA ALERT: Operation Ember public inquiry into allegations concerning RMS employees continues 15 October

11 Oct 2019

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Ember public inquiry will continue from Tuesday, 15 October 2019, from 9:30 am.

MEDIA ALERT: Operation Ember public inquiry continues Thursday 1 August

30 Jul 2019

The ICAC's Operation Ember public inquiry will continue this Thursday, 1 August 2019, from 9:30 am.

MEDIA ALERT: Operation Ember public inquiry continues Friday 21 June

20 Jun 2019

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) Operation Ember public inquiry will continue on Friday 21 June 2019 from 9:00 am.

MEDIA ALERT: ICAC public inquiry into allegations concerning RMS employees’ awarding of contracts starts Monday

17 May 2019

The ICAC public inquiry into allegations concerning two Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) employees and how they exercised their official functions when awarding contracts (Operation Ember) will start next Monday, 20 May 2019 at 10:00 am.

ICAC to hold public inquiry into allegations concerning RMS employees’ awarding of contracts

30 Apr 2019

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry starting on Monday 20 May 2019 as part of an investigation it is conducting into allegations concerning two Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) employees and how they exercised their official functions when awarding contracts.

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.

 

Filename Date pp. Time
30-10-2019 Transcript 30/10/19 02403-02421 2.00pm to 3.38pm
29-10-2019 Transcript 29/10/19 02295-02341 2.00pm to 4.54pm
29-10-2019 Transcript 29/10/19 02243-02294 9.30am to 1.08pm
18-10-2019 Transcript 18/10/19 02142-02190 10.00am to 1.00pm
17-10-2019 Transcript 17/10/19 02099-02141 2.30pm to 4.29pm
17-10-2019 Transcript 17/10/19 02029-02098 9.30am to 1.22pm
16-10-2019 Transcript 16/10/19 01981-02028 2.00pm to 4.47pm
16-10-2019 Transcript 16/10/19 01932-01980 9.30am to 12.57
15-10-2019 Transcript 15/10/19 01887-01931 2.00pm to 4.32pm
15-10-2019 Transcript 15/10/19 01829-01886 9.30am to 1.08pm
01-08-2019 Transcript 01/08/19 01784-01828 2.00pm to 4.09pm
01-08-2019 Transcript 01/08/19 01737-01783 10.00am to 1.04pm
26-06-2019 Transcript 26/06/19 01681-01736 1.50pm to 4.41pm
26-06-2019 Transcript 26/06/19 01622-01680 9.30am to 1.06pm
21-06-2019 Transcript 21/06/19 01569-01621 2.00pm to 4.47pm
21-06-2019 Transcript 21/06/19 01511-01568 09.00am to 12.57pm
11-06-2019 Transcript 11/06/19 01467-01510 2.30pm to 4.38pm
11-06-2019 Transcript 11/06/19 01407-01466 09.30am to 1.08pm
07-06-2019 Transcript 07/06/19 01362-01406 2.00pm to 4.30pm
07-06-2019 Transcript 07/06/19 01302-01361 09.30am to1.06pm
06-06-2019 Transcript 06/06/19 01251-01301 2.00pm to 4.38pm
06-06-2019 Transcript 06/06/19 01191-01250 09.30am to 1.05pm
05-06-2019 Transcript 05/06/19 001145-01190 2.00pm to 4.31pm
05-06-2019 Transcript 05/06/19 01083-01144 09.45am to 1.08pm
04-06-2019 Transcript 04/06/19 01031-01082 2.00pm to 4.47pm
04-06-2019 Transcript 04/06/19 00979-01030 09.45am to 1.02pm
03-06-2019 Transcript 03/06/19 00936-00978 2.15pm to 4.30pm
03-06-2019 Transcript 03/06/19 00872-00935 09.30am to 1.06pm
30-05-2019 Transcript 30/05/19 00820-00871 2.00pm to 4.28pm
30-05-2019 Transcript 30/05/19 00767-00819 9.45am to 12.55pm
29-05-2019 Transcript 29/05/19 00708-00766 2.00pm to 4.57pm
29-05-2019 Transcript 29/05/19 00648-00707 9.30am to 1.05pm
28-05-2019 Transcript 28/05/19 00579-00647 2.00pm to 5.06pm
28-05-2019 Transcript 28/05/19 00513-00578 9.30am to 1.08pm
27-05-2019 Transcript 27/05/19 00463-00512 2.00pm to 4.37pm
27-05-2019 Transcript 27/05/19 00404-00462 9.30am to 1.01pm
24-05-2019 Transcript 24/05/19 00344-00403 10.00am to 1.05pm
23-05-2019 Transcript 23/05/19 00308-00343 2.00pm to 4.03pm
23-05-2019 Transcript 23/05/19 00259-00307 10.00am to 1.04pm
22-05-2019 Transcript 22/05/19 00218-00258 2.00pm to 4.04pm
22-05-2019 Transcript 22/05/19 00175-00217 10.40am to 12.59pm
21-05-2019 Transcript 21/05/19 00132-00174 2.00pm to 4.00pm
21-05-2019 Transcript 21/05/19 00086-00131 10.00am to 1.07pm
20-05-2019 Transcript 20/05/19 00047-00085 2.00pm to 3.59pm
20-05-2019 Transcript 20/05/19 00001-00046 10.00am to 1.03pm
Exhibits
Ember Exhibit List
Public notices