Friday, October 30, 2020

Former Western Power executive faces $1.5 million corruption charges in contracts probe

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A former Western Power employee is facing dozens of corruption charges over his handling of almost $1.5 million worth of contracts awarded by the utility for work on its fleet of vehicles.

Rodney George Pearson, 58, was arrested and charged with 27 counts of corruption yesterday after police raided a home in Redcliffe.

He was released on bail to reappear in court on March 26, 2020.

Mr Pearson allegedly used his position as a fleet coordinator at Western Power “to influence the tender/contract processes relating to his area of responsibility” and that he “benefited financially” from his alleged actions, according to police.

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Police said he was an employee at Western Power until recently when his employment was “terminated”.

The charges were the result of an investigation which started when Western Power reported to authorities that it had “serious concerns” about the management of its tender and contracting processes between August 2018 and November 2019.

A series of public sector fraud charges

The charges are the latest in a number of high-profile, but separate, cases of alleged corruption within the public sector.

They include the charging of the now-sacked Department of Communities assistant director general Paul Whyte and his associate, Jacob Anthonisz, with corruptly obtaining $2.5 million dollars of public funds through an allegedly false invoicing scheme.

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Their last court hearing was told the final amount alleged to have been stolen by the pair could be up to $25 million.

In another case, corruption charges were laid against a string of contractors for the North Metropolitan Health Service for providing gratuities for public servants, such as business-class flights and restaurant meals, in exchange for being given work.

One of them submitted inflated invoices to the Health Department to cover the cost of work his company was doing on the home of John Fullerton, a department executive.

While the contractors have pleaded guilty and are due to be sentenced in the District court next year, Mr Fullerton and his alleged accomplice, Grant Alexander, who were named in a Corruption and Crime Commission report, are yet to be charged.

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