| 01.08,19. 08:06 PM |
Five charged over corruption, bribery at WA's North Metropolitan Health Service after CCC investigation
Photo: The charges came after a scathing report into corruption and bribery within the WA Health Department.
Five contractors have been charged with almost 50 offences including fraud and bribery following a decades-long corruption investigation into the WA Health Department.
Police launched Operation Highland in the wake of a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) investigation into the North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS), which led to a report being tabled in State Parliament last year.
Acting Inspector Paul Matthews said those charged were involved in providing maintenance and service contracts.
He said the five men charged were allegedly given ongoing contracts in exchange for providing gratuities to public servants working in the NMHS, including business class flights and overseas accommodation.
None of the five charged are public servants.
"It's been ingrained for a long period of time, involving numerous people," he said.
"I wouldn't say it was accepted across the board [in the WA Health Department], but obviously there was a group of people within that maintenance and contract area that participated in that."
Acting Inspector Matthews said the investigation was "ongoing" and 11 people named in an earlier CCC report had been interviewed, but not all had been charged.
"We have interviewed the other six, at this stage there is insufficient evidence to charge those, but that's not to be discounted because there's still further investigations to go," he said.
Charges follow explosive CCC report
The CCC began investigating the Health Department after a tip-off from a whistle blower in 2014.
The report named former NMHS executive directors John Fullerton and David Mulligan, as well as former facilities development manager Shaun Ensor, as the bureaucrats involved.
A bespectacled man sits between two younger men, apparently at a sporting match.
None of these men have been charged with any offence by WA Police.
The report found one senior bureaucrat allowed contractors to fraudulently bill the NMHS for $170,000 in renovations carried out at his own home.
The report said he and another person also accepted benefits including overseas travel, restaurant meals, entertainment, cash bribes and alcohol in exchange for awarding lucrative government contracts.
Examples of corruption found by the CCC:
•Lavish lunches at restaurants including Nobu, Rockpool and Coco's totalling more than $50,000
•A three-week business-class trip to the UK for John Fullerton and his wife, Jacqui
•A business-class trip for the Fullertons to Canada to attend their son's wedding
•A three-week US holiday for Mr and Mrs Fullerton
•Annual trips to Melbourne for Mr and Mrs Fullerton
•Trips to Canada, Bali, Hong Kong, China and Dubai for Mr Fullerton and his wife
•An all-expenses paid trip to the UK for David Mulligan
•A night at the Galaxy nightclub including paid hostesses
•Melbourne Cup lunches and AFL grand final tickets
•Gifts of cologne, shoes, business suits and shirts worth thousands of dollars
•Cash payments of more than $25,000
The report recommended charges be considered against three former senior health bureaucrats and nearly a dozen contractors, for what was described as sustained efforts to engage in and cover up bribery.
It said the conduct had gone on for more than a decade and reached into senior levels within WA Health.
"It exposes a culture of contractors freely giving gifts and benefits to public officers, with the expectation of thereby winning work and recovering the costs of the gifts through fraud," the CCC report said.
"The brazenness of the conduct, the number of contractors involved and the apparent indifference by all concerned … raises concerns about whether this behaviour is confined to NMHS."