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ICAC finds former RFS officer and supplier corrupt

Thursday 17 December 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.

The ICAC finds that Mr Homsey engaged in serious corrupt conduct by paying the money to Mr Hacking, as did his mother Gay Homsey for assisting Mr Homsey to pay some of the money to Mr Hacking between 2012 and 2015, knowing it was intended to influence Mr Hacking in his official functions in Mr Homsey's favour.

In its report, Investigation into the conduct of officers of the NSW Rural Fire Service and others, released today, the Commission finds that, between 2011 and 2015, the RFS paid Mr Homsey's companies about $8 million for the supply of snack packs. Snack packs are clear plastic bags containing sweets, biscuits, chips or other items intended to be supplied to RFS staff and volunteers when they need a quick energy supply on the fire ground during emergency operations.

The Commission finds that Mr Hacking engaged in serious corrupt conduct by accepting from Mr 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. Mr Hacking and Mr Homsey accepted that, from late 2012, they had an agreement where Mr Homsey would undersupply snack packs to the RFS, and they would both share in the profits from this arrangement. The arrangement continued until the ICAC intervened in February 2015.

Mr Hacking also engaged in corrupt conduct by accepting $403,882 from Mr Homsey and Mrs Homsey, between November 2012 and February 2015, to influence him to conceal the undersupply of snack packs to the RFS and show favour to Mr Homsey in relation to RFS business. He also engaged in serious corrupt conduct by 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 had not, or would not, be supplied to the RFS. Mr Homsey also engaged in serious corrupt conduct by submitting invoices for snack packs to the RFS, knowing that the full amount ordered would not be supplied.

Mr Hacking engaged in further serious corrupt conduct by taking mobile telephones and other electronic devices from the RFS without authority between March 2011 and December 2014. This included the sale of 72 telephones through his PayPal account on eBay between 16 March 2011 and 19 September 2013, for a total of about $45,000. He also gave away telephones and other electronic devices that belonged to the RFS to members of his family and friends.

The ICAC 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: Mr Hacking for offences including receiving corrupt commissions or rewards, and larceny by a person in the public service in respect of the taking of mobile telephones and other devices; Mr Homsey for offences including corruptly making payments to Mr Hacking, and attempting to obtain a financial advantage, or cause a financial disadvantage, by issuing false invoices to the RFS; and Mrs Homsey, for offences including aiding Mr Homsey to pay corrupt commissions or rewards to Mr Hacking.

The Commission has made four corruption prevention recommendations to the RFS, including that the agency, where possible, strengthens its logistics capabilities and modifies its procurement practices to reflect an overall logistics focus. The RFS should also continue 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.

The ICAC's investigation commenced following the referral of an anonymous complaint to the Commission by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet concerning the conduct of Mr Hacking. The ICAC held a public inquiry, as part of the investigation, over five days from 2 to 9 June 2015. Assistant Commissioner Theresa Hamilton presided at the public inquiry and 11 witnesses gave evidence.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

Investigation report   Fact sheet