World News – UA – V / Line boss took out loan from cleaning company for door-to-door deposit, IBAC said


Former V / Line boss James Pinder pocketed a secret $ 100,000 loan from a cleaning company he had awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a the day before on the promise of the IBAC anti-corruption commission in Victoria, it had cracked down on the wrongdoing of the regional rail operator

The broad-based independent Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday launched live-streamed public hearings into « Alleged Collusion of Officials » at V / Line and Metro to promote the business interests of a cleaning contractor, Transclean, in exchange of benefits

Former V / Line boss James Pinder is questioned by IBAC over allegations that public officials received financial gain in exchange for being awarded cleaning contracts

M Pinder received a total of $ 320,000 from Transclean, IBAC learned, including a $ 100,000 loan that helped pay a down payment on his $ 2 million $ 5 million house in Williamstown, months after Mr. Pinder awarded the company a contract worth up to $ 40 million with V / Line

He was tasked with cleaning up corruption at V / Line after a 2017 investigation into « unfettered cronyism » in senior management, but three years later he himself is the subject of a much more severe corruption investigation pocketed payments from Transclean while claiming it was cleaning up operator protocols

Transclean’s $ 100,000 payment – the first in a series of late 2018 and early 2019 payments – was made seven months after Mr. Pinder took direct control of V / Line’s contract with the company, instead of being managed through the operator board This gave M Pinder the power to decide whether the contract should be extended for a full seven years, adding $ 23 million to its value, well in excess of the $ 5 million it was authorized to oversee

Assistant IBAC attorney Paul Lawrie suggested during Monday’s hearing that Transclean’s loan to Mr. Pinder was a payment to « defend and guarantee » his contract in 2018, to which Pinder replied: « This is not true »

Metro Fleet Operational Support Chief Peter Bollas is also accused of pocketing money from Transclean, with IBAC revealing Mr. Pinder, M Bollas and Transclean boss George Haritos have used burner phones to secretly communicate with each other for four years The trio will face IBAC this week

Transclean is the cleaning contractor for V / Line and Metro, and performs safety work for Yarra Trams

The commission learned that the money paid by Transclean to Mr. Pinder came from various entities related to Transclean and was routed through a Transclean employee, Marie Tsakopoulos, whom Mr. Pinder described as a friend he had met at a bar M Pinder admitted to discussing the payment with M Haritos before his transfer

M Pinder prepared a document for Ms Tsakopoulos after being raided by IBAC investigators, the hearing was told, which summarized the nature of their relationship and the loan M Pinder claimed to have written the document to remind Ms Tsakopoulos of details such as « she’s a little bit stupid », which was categorically rejected by Mr. Lawrie

« I told you very frankly M Pinder, this is just fiction, « said M Lawrie « This is a document you prepared and provided to Maria to reconcile a story between the two of you about the origin of these $ 320,000. »

M Pinder said he took the money because he was desperate to buy the property before his wife and stepson arrived from the UK, admitting he orchestrated an « elaborate ruse » which required him to take money from « unusual sources », including $ 10,000 in cash from his real estate broker at the National Australia Bank

M Pinder said he made a « mistake » and « in my heart I knew it was not the right thing to do »

When asked why he didn’t accept cash from people other than the V / Line vendors who had offered to lend him money, thus avoiding a conflict of interest, Mr. Pinder replied: « I don’t know the answer to this question »

M Pinder left blanks on several fundamental questions about financing his house, which prompted Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC, to ask at one point, « What’s going on here? »

M Pinder said he regularly socialized with employees at V / Line, Metro, Transclean and other Crown Casino and horse racing vendors

M Lawrie accused M Pinder and M Bollas for « using their position for the financial benefit of Transclean and themselves »

Transclean made several payments to M Pinder between late 2018 and early 2019, totaling at least $ 320,000, « which went towards the purchase of the [Williamstown] property, and which ultimately went back to Transclean, » Mr. Lawrie at hearings

M Pinder reportedly started using a burner phone to communicate with Transclean boss M Haritos and M Bollas, after being appointed Managing Director of V / Line

The commission has heard the trio communicate in this manner for four years – with the aim of keeping their « transactions beyond detection, » M said. Lawrie Phones were subscribed on behalf of Transclean associates

M Pinder, M Bollas and M Haritos have known each other for almost a decade, M Bollas falling under M Pinder while he was in charge of rolling stock at Metro between 2012 and 2015, said Mr. Lawrie Transclean was Metro’s cleaning contractor at the time M Haritos and some Transclean employees were invited to M Pinder

M Pinder left Metro in 2015 and returned to the UK, but was poached as Managing Director of V / Line, where he started working at the end of 2016

IBAC has opened an investigation after detecting a number of « suspicious bank account transactions » between M Pinder and « Transclean associates »

In another survey in 2017, the IBAC uncovered a « work culture for friends » that saw executives bend bidding rules to award important contracts to friends and partners

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V / Line, James Pinder, Independent Commission Against Large Scale Corruption, Cleaning, Victoria

News from around the world – AU – V / Line boss contracted loan from cleaning company for property deposit, IBAC said



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