University employee corruptly awarded $350,000+ in contracts
Wednesday 8 September 2010
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that Deborah Yandell, a former employee of the University of Sydney, failed to declare conflicts of interest when she allocated University contracts worth over $350,000 and approved claims for payment to Razorback Services Pty Ltd (Razorback), a company jointly owned by her and her husband, Dino Radovac.
In its report on the Investigation into undisclosed conflicts of interest of a University of Sydney employee, released today, the Commission found that between 2007 and 2009, Ms Yandell, a former Cleaning Manager and Site Manager of the University's Campus Infrastructure Services (CIS), engaged in corrupt conduct and manipulated procurement processes in order to favour Razorback. Ms Yandell approved 267 payments totalling $355,843, and concealed from the University her relationship with Mr Radovac and the financial benefits she derived from her personal interest when she engaged Razorback to clean various University sites.
The Commission found, of the money paid to Razorback, nearly $154,000 was transferred to accounts held jointly by Ms Yandell and Mr Radovac. Ms Yandell knowingly breached the University's code of conduct. The report states, "Ms Yandell rightly accepted that she received significant financial benefits as a result of Razorback getting the University cleaning contracts".
The report also states that, in the Commission's opinion, an employee of an educational institution that receives public money is not, at common law, a public official for purposes of the common law offence of misconduct in public office, and therefore that offence is not applicable to Ms Yandell's conduct. The Commission will therefore not be seeking advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with respect to the prosecution of Ms Yandell for any criminal offences. Ms Yandell resigned from her position during the course of the investigation in 2009.
The Commission also found that there was no evidence suggesting that Mr Radovac engaged in any corrupt conduct or conduct that could constitute or involve a criminal offence.
Other issues examined in the course of the investigation were whether Razorback issued fraudulent invoices and whether Ms Yandell approved the payment of fraudulent invoices to Razorback. The report concludes insufficient evidence was found to establish that Ms Yandell and Mr Radovac engaged in any corrupt conduct in relation to fraudulent invoices and payments.
The report details the environment that allowed procurement to be a significant corruption risk activity within the CIS. The Commission cites a lack of staff and management understanding of the purchasing policy and the non-performance by management of staff and contractor compliance checks as key factors that encouraged or permitted corrupt conduct to occur.
The ICAC has made five corruption prevention recommendations to the University of Sydney, to improve CIS staff education about the University's Purchasing Policy and probity issues and to improve procurement processes and procedures.
The Commission held a public inquiry as part of this investigation over five days commencing 21 June 2010, at which Commissioner the Hon David Ipp AO QC presided.