Operation Rubicon was an investigation into allegations of interference in the awarding of tenders by a local council.
On 7 October 2013, we received a complaint concerning a regional shire council. It alleged an unnamed councillor had been assisting a building company to win council tenders.
Our investigation was unable to identify the unknown councillor said to be assisting the builders win tenders. Our investigation was unable to find any evidence of this specific allegation, however there was an occasion where a councillor and a director of the council had unsuccessfully attempted to use their positions to influence the outcomes of two tender processes in favour of the builders. The investigation was unable to find any direct evidence that link this allegation to those matters.
On 18 October 2013, we received a complaint about the same council concerning interference in two tender processes by a current and former councillor, with the intended beneficiary being the same builders as the previous allegation.
The allegation was that a councillor used his position on 15 July 2013 in an attempt to influence the outcome of a tender process by arranging for distribution of an alternate evaluation paper in favour of a company of builders.
Our investigation, through council minutes and interviews with key council personnel, identified that this event did in fact occur, however the council vote recommended that the original tender evaluation stood in favour of an alternative builder. The investigation failed to identify any serious corrupt conduct regarding this allegation.
It was also alleged a councillor used his position to assume the chair of a tender evaluation panel for a local project, and influence the outcome of the process to favour a company of builders. They directed a staff member involved in the process to produce a report recommending those builders contrary to council practice.
An internal investigation into this matter commenced which resulted in the councillor's contract being terminated. The subject of the allegation has been appropriately investigated and resolved by Council. No further action was required.
The investigation results were provided to the Local Government Compliance Inspectorate for their further action/review.