Vic trains exec admits to corrupt payments
An executive of Melbourne's train network has admitted to accepting about $150,000 in cash from a cleaning company director before Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog.
Peter Bollas, the suspended manager of Metro Trains' fleet, told Wednesday's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission hearing he took monthly payments up to $10,000 from Transclean managing director George Haritos.
The payments were to "assist and grow" Transclean's business, with the company contracted to clean Metro and V/Line trains.
Suspended V/Line boss James Pinder is also alleged to have profited to the tune of at least $320,000 in electronic transactions, plus cash payments, to further Transclean's interests.
All three men are the subject of an IBAC investigation into serious alleged conflicts of interest and procurement impropriety.
In tapped phone calls, Mr Bollas and Mr Pinder discuss how to approach Mr Haritos for suspected cash kickbacks.
"Tell him like this: 50 each. Done. We're not greedy f***ers," Mr Bollas says in the call from April 21 this year.
Mr Pinder responds: "He always calls it a sprinkle, don't he? 50s good."
In another call between the pair on April 30, Mr Pinder tells Mr Bollas: "You and I will milk this for as long as we can, yeah?"
"We have been hand-feeding him everything for the last four or five years. Everything he's got, he's been delivered it on a plate."
Mr Pinder, however, denied the accusations under questioning from counsel assisting Paul Lawrie and commissioner Robert Redlich, claiming the trio were involved in a gambling syndicate.
"A reasonable person looking at this from the outside and listening to those calls and reading those transcripts would say, 'this is Mr Bollas and Mr Pinder talking about how much Transclean's making," Mr Lawrie said.
"... How much extra they're making, despite the discounts during the COVID response', and 'how much we can milk from them over and above our regular monthly milking'.
"Do you see how that might be a reasonable conclusion that someone might reach looking at this?"
Mr Pinder replied: "I can see that."
Mr Bollas told the hearing on Wednesday he had never been in a gambling syndicate.
The commission has previously heard Mr Pinder and Mr Haritos used burner mobile phones, subscribed in the name of Transclean associates, for almost four years to communicate secretly with each other and Mr Bollas.
Mr Pinder has admitted to writing Mr Bollas handwritten notes - shown at the hearing - after his house was raided by IBAC officers.
"They will be listening to phones and probably still are," one read.
"This may not end well - prepare for the worst.
"We need to stick together."
The hearing continues on Thursday.
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