Inner West Council and Transport for NSW – allegations concerning conduct of employees and others (Operation Hector)

Year: 2024 Status: completed

The ICAC investigated the following allegations, concerning the conduct of employees of Inner West Council (IWC), Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and others:

  • between 21 July 2015 and 3 October 2020, former Leichhardt Council and IWC employee Tony Nguyen partially and/or dishonestly exercised his official functions by awarding and/or recommending IWC contracts and tenders to companies with which he was associated
  • since 1 January 2017, TfNSW officer Benjamin Vardanega has dishonestly and partially exercised his public official functions by using information gained in the course of his official functions to assist certain contractors to tender for TfNSW work, or to tender for subcontracts from entities that have been awarded TfNSW work, to benefit himself and others
  • since 1 January 2014, TfNSW officer Nima Abdi has dishonestly and partially exercised his public official functions by using information gained in the course of his official functions to assist contractors, with which he had an undeclared association, to tender for TfNSW work, or to tender for subcontracts from entities that had been awarded TfNSW work, to benefit himself and others
  • since 1 January 2017, certain employees of Downer EDI Works Pty Ltd (“Downer”) have dishonestly obtained a benefit for themselves by favouring certain subcontractors when awarding work arising from contracts that TfNSW has awarded to Downer
  • since 1 January 2014, TfNSW employee Raja Sanber has obtained a financial benefit for himself, and others, by undertaking contractor or subcontractor work for various entities on TfNSW projects, in circumstances where he failed to disclose his role in those entities to TfNSW
  • between 1 July 2019 and 31 March 2020, TfNSW employees, and a Downer employee, dishonestly benefited from the payment or application of public funds for their own private advantage by submitting and approving timesheets and invoices for payment in circumstances where no work was carried out
  • between 1 January 2017 and 31 March 2021, a TfNSW employee misused material or information acquired in the course of his public official functions for his own benefit, or for the benefit of Mr Abdi or persons associated with him.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 30 April 2024, the Commission makes findings of corrupt conduct against Tony Nguyen, Nima Abdi, Raja Sanber, Sairam Pilli, Monty Nguy, Seng Du Laphai, Aidan Cox, Benjamin Vardanega, Abdal Aziz and George Panagakis.

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 Tony Nguyen, Seng Du Laphai, Monty Nguy, Raja Sanber, Sairam Pilli, Abdal Aziz, Nima Abdi, George Panagakis and Andrew Gayad for various offences.

The Commission has made seven recommendations to Inner West Council, nine to Transport for NSW and one to the NSW Government to help improve systems and prevent the conduct identified in the investigation from recurring.

View the Operation Hector submissions timetable 

Download the public inquiry Covid-19 protocol - March 2023 (pdf)

Download the Operation Hector public inquiry media guidelines (pdf)

Findings of corrupt conduct

Download the findings of corrupt conduct (pdf)

Recommendations for prosecutions

Download the recommendations for prosecutions (pdf)

Recommendations for disciplinary action

As none of the former public officials relevant to this matter are currently employed by Inner West Council, Transport for NSW or Sydney, the question of whether consideration should be given to the taking of action against them for a disciplinary offence, or the taking of action with a view to their dismissal, does not arise.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

Download the recommendations for corruption prevention (pdf)

Media Releases
Witness Transcripts

View all public inquiry transcripts associated with this investigation. The Commission will endeavour to make transcripts available as soon as practicable. It cannot advise specific times for when transcripts will be published, due to factors including checking procedures to ensure compliance with any non-publication orders made under the ICAC Act. Users are also reminded that they may follow the proceedings in real time if a public inquiry is being live streamed.

Filename Date pp. Time
10-05-2023 transcript 10/05/23 2125-2129 3.05pm to 3.12pm
10-05-2023 transcript 10/05/23 2101-2124 11.45am to 12.35pm
08-05-2023 transcript 08/05/23 2077-2100 12.00pm to 1.07pm
28-04-2023 transcript 28/04/23 2012-2076 10.00am to 12.53pm
27-04-2023 transcript 27/04/23 1967-2011 2.00pm to 4.20pm
20-04-2023 transcript 20/04/23 1922-1966 2.00pm to 4.05pm
20-04-2023 transcript 20/04/23 1865-1921 10.00am to 12.57pm
19-04-2023 transcript 19/04/23 1829-1864 2.00pm to 4.04pm
19-04-2023 transcript 19/04/23 1787-1828 10.00am to 12.55pm
18-04-2023 transcript 18/04/23 1737-1786 2.00pm to 4.18pm
18-04-2023 transcript 18/04/23 1670-1736 10.00am to 1.00pm
17-04-2023 transcript 17/04/23 1641-1669 2.00pm to 4.21pm
17-04-2023 transcript 17/04/23 1587-1640 10.00am to 1.02pm
14-04-2023 transcript 14/04/23 1547-1586 2.00pm to 3.56pm
14-04-2023 transcript 14/04/23 1497-1546 10.30am to 1.03pm
13-04-2023 transcript 13/04/23 1453-1496 2.00pm to 4.02pm
13-04-2023 transcript 13/04/23 1391-1452 11.00am to 1.01pm
12-04-2023 transcript 12/04/23 1355-1390 2.00pm to 4.31pm
12-04-2023 transcript 12/04/23 1298-1354 10.00am to 1.01pm
11-04-2023 transcript 11/04/23 1243-1297 2.00pm to 4.00pm
11-04-2023 transcript 11/04/23 1197-1242 10.00am to 1.02pm
05-04-2023 transcript 05/04/23 1147-1196 2.00pm to 4.24pm
05-04-2023 transcript 05/04/23 1096-1146 11.00am to 1.02pm
04-04-2023 transcript 04/04/23 1072-1095 2.00pm to 3.11pm
04-04-2023 transcript 04/04/23 1021-1071 10.00am to 1.03pm
03-04-2023 transcript 03/04/23 0983-1020 2.00pm to 5.04pm
03-04-2023 transcript 03/04/23 0921-0982 10.00am to 1.00pm
31-03-2023 transcript 31/03/23 0903-0920 9.30am to 10.20am
30-03-2023 transcript 30/03/23 0844-0902 2.00pm to 4.48pm
30-03-2023 transcript 30/03/23 0787-0843 10.00am to 1.04pm
29-03-2023 transcript 29/03/23 0774-0786 2.00pm to 3.06pm
29-03-2023 transcript 29/03/23 0713-0773 10.00am to 1.05pm
28-03-2023 transcript 28/03/23 0663-0712 2.00pm to 4.05pm
28-03-2023 transcript 28/03/23 0619-0662 11.00am to 1.01pm
27-03-2023 transcript 27/03/23 0596-0618 2.00pm to 4.02pm
27-03-2023 transcript 27/03/23 0548-0595 10.00am to 12.08pm
24-03-2023 transcript 24/03/23 0506-0547 2.00pm to 4.02pm
24-03-2023 transcript 24/03/23 0461-0505 10.00am to 1.05pm
23-03-2023 transcript 23/03/23 0415-0460 2.00pm to 3.58pm
23-03-2023 transcript 23/03/23 0363-0414 10.00am to 12.59pm
22-03-2023 transcript 22/03/23 0296-0362 2.00pm to 4.07pm
22-03-2023 transcript 22/03/23 0241-0295 11.00am to 1.59pm
21-03-2023 transcript 21/03/23 0188-0240 2.00pm to 4.04pm
21-03-2023 transcript 21/03/23 0120-0187 10.00am to 1.01pm
20-03-2023 transcript 20/03/23 0068-0119 2.00pm to 4.00pm
20-03-2023 transcript 20/03/23 0001-0067 10.00am to 1.03pm
Exhibits 131 to 135 and 142 are subject to a non-publication order pursuant to s 112 of the ICAC Act, and will not be available from this website until such time as the Commission publishes its report on Operation Hector. Any person seeking access in the meantime may make application to the Commission outlining the reasons why access is sought. Applications should be emailed to [email protected].
Public notices