CURRENT POLITICS - Crooks on Site
|Crooks on Site
On 4 April this year, thirty Victorian building inspectors were charged with ‘alleged corruption, serious misconduct and harassment’; they allegedly took kickbacks to block formal investigations.
On the same day, the State government announced its own construction-industry police to attack the Construction Division of the CFMEU. The new body will not pursue the employers who paid the bribes. Since the Grocon dispute, the new body is to chase alleged criminality by the union.
In April this year, Lend Lease paid fines and restitution of $54USm. for ten years of ‘a systematic pattern of audacious fraud’ in the US of A. Yet again, the company’s defence was ‘everyone does it’.
Hastie had inflated its earnings since 2009. Three other collapsed companies - Reed, St Hilliers and Kell & Rigby - had failed to file accounts on times over several years.
In September, Lend Lease stood down executives at its subsidiary Abigroup over misreporting of a possible loss on the Peninsula Link in outer Melbourne.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission recently fined Leightons $300,000 for not supplying information to the stock exchange.
Leighton’s is also under investigation here and in Iraq into whether one of its subsidiaries paid bribes to win a contract. (Australian, 6 June 2012, p. 43.)
Corporations transfer assets and contracts to other firms inside their stables. Fore example, Reed group transferred an $80m. contract on the Melbourne Law Courts to a company owned by the group’s founder. PPP over
PPP at Ararat $400m from St Helliers and NZ Hawkins Construction
It seems there is no one to stop building companies from calling in voluntary administrators and transferring assets to another clean corporate entity and starting anew. (Age 20 June 2012,p. 8, Business Day)
Collusive tendering and price-fixing are the ‘ingrained culture’ of the employers. In 1911, the NSW MBA justified its members’ involvement in illegal commissions by saying that they ‘should be openly recognised’ as ‘universal and worldwide’.
In 1995, Leighton’s then CEO, Wal King, justified his company’s use of false invoices to conceal price-fixing on the Sydney Casino as ‘the culture … and custom that had been long-standing in the industry that had been handed on for years.’ So had King’s excuse. The 1995 government report branded King as ‘not of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity’.
The 1990 NSW Royal Commission into the construction industry forced the resignation of the executive of the NSW MBA which had been a clearing house for collusive tending.
The gravest matter is the Hardie asbestos case. The High Court disbarred Hardie directors for seven years for rigging the books about its compensation fund.
Transfield’s co-founder, Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, confessed to his corporation’s official historian that he had engaged in corruption and strong-arm tactics: ‘We cover this with a veneer of civilisation’.
See also BLF