ICAC finds former Western Sydney RIDS officer corrupt, recommends tighter regulation of asbestos waste disposal
Wednesday 21 June 2017
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that former Western Sydney Regional Illegal Dumping Squad (WS RIDS) officer Craig Izzard engaged in serious corrupt conduct by deliberately failing to investigate unlawful waste disposal, including asbestos dumping, in return for benefits including cash payments and mobile telephones.
In its report on Operation Scania, Investigation into the conduct of a Regional Illegal Dumping Squad Officer, released today, the Commission also finds that there were oversight weaknesses that created opportunities for corrupt conduct, and recommends a tighter regulatory response to illegal dumping, aided by the creation of a standalone offence for asbestos dumping and the establishment of a single entity to oversee asbestos waste.
The Commission finds that, between September 2015 and March 2016, Mr Izzard agreed to receive cash payments, and received at least two mobile telephones, firewood and free rubbish removal as a reward from Nosir Kabite. Mr Izzard’s reward was for assisting Mr Kabite by improperly exercising his official functions by deliberately failing to investigate the unlawful waste disposal activities and not enforcing waste disposal laws in relation to Mr Kabite’s operations at a property leased by his son’s company (ATM Excavations) from Riverstone Parade Pty Ltd at Bandon Road, Vineyard. Mr Kabite used the land, referred to as Bandon Road Yard, to illegally accept contaminated waste, for which he had no development consent. The waste included asbestos which Riverstone Parade has since been advised will cost in the order of $9 million to remediate.
Mr Izzard also engaged in serious corrupt conduct by, from 2015, being party to an agreement where Ibrahim Beydoun, part-owner of Geta Skip Pty Ltd, paid $10,000 to Mr Kabite, which Mr Kabite agreed to share with Mr Izzard. In return, Mr Izzard improperly exercised his official functions to intimidate Raed Ykmour into departing from 30 Bellfield Avenue, Rossmore, to assist Mr Beydoun to relocate his business to that property. Mr Izzard also agreed to help Mr Beydoun to avoid detection of the illegal operation of his skip bin business at that site, and assisted Mr Beydoun with the development application for the operation of his skip bin business at the property. The Commission finds that Mr Beydoun and Mr Kabite engaged in serious corrupt conduct through their actions or agreements to supply rewards to Mr Izzard in return for Mr Izzard improperly exercising his official functions.
The report notes that the investigation not only exposed serious corrupt conduct, but also revealed multiple weaknesses in the strategic oversight , management and governance systems that controlled the activities of the WS RIDS, creating opportunities for corrupt conduct. WS RIDS officers operated with substantial autonomy, which gave field officers unfettered control at key stages of investigations into the illegal dumping of asbestos waste, while supervision was fractured with dual reporting lines between the WS RIDS coordinator and council officers further defusing accountability.
The report says that the WS RIDS Management Committee did not operate as an effective oversight body, doing little to effectively monitor the squad’s strategic or operational performance. The regulatory system, which is still in place, created financial disincentives to comply with requirements; the high costs involved in lawfully disposing of dangerous materials, including asbestos, created an incentive to not comply with the law, facilitating a black market for dumping. This investigation demonstrated that NSW waste disposal laws are confusing and misunderstood by those charged with administering them, and there are inconsistencies and gaps in the regulatory framework that can be exploited by unscrupulous and opportunistic operators.
The Commission makes recommendations to address these concerns, including the need to strengthen the strategic oversight and governance framework for the WS RIDS and to address the problems associated with the incentives and motivations driving illegal dumping.
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 Izzard, Mr Kabite and Mr Beydoun for various offences.
Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801