Victoria’s Anti-Corruption Commission Recovers $2.4m in Fraud Profits

Image Source: IBAC

More than $2.4 million in assets has been returned to Victoria’s public purse as a result of prosecutions following an investigation by Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

The money was recovered from Mr Barry Wells and Mr Albert Ooi following IBAC’s Operation Fitzroy into corruption in Public Transport Victoria and the former Department of Transport, where they were senior employees. Operation Fitzroy was IBAC’s first major investigation following its establishment in 2013.

The Director of Public Prosecutions applied in 2015 and 2016 under the Confiscation Act 1997 to restrain assets belonging to Mr Wells and Mr Ooi, who were then facing charges as a result of Operation Fitzroy. Both men were subsequently convicted and are now serving custodial sentences.

IBAC Commissioner the Honourable Robert Redlich QC said corruption is never a victimless crime.

“This result sends a clear message that corruption does not pay. The Victorian community ultimately loses when public funds are misappropriated. This is money that should be spent on schools, hospitals, and other vital community services.”

“This is IBAC’s first case of asset confiscation following successful prosecutions. We’re pleased to have worked with the Office of Public Prosecutions to see funds stolen as a result of corrupt conduct have been returned to the public purse.”

Solicitor for Public Prosecutions John Cain said the assets of the two men were confiscated to repay the profit they received in committing their offences.

“Victoria’s asset confiscation legislation aims to deprive individuals of the proceeds of crime, to disrupt further criminal activity by preventing the use of that property, and to deter others from engaging in criminal activity.”

$2.3 million has been recovered from Mr Ooi’s assets after successful legal action by the Office of Public Prosecutions. This was the amount determined by the Supreme Court as the profits received through his unlawful conduct, after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and receiving a secret commission, for which he was also sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

$136,000 of tainted assets of Mr Wells, frozen by the Office of Public Prosecutions, have been forfeited to the State, and further assets are being pursued. A $1.3 million penalty was also ordered against Mr Wells, who has been sentenced to eight years and nine months imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and receiving secret commissions.

In sentencing, His Honour, Judge Dixon noted that the two men were ‘key figures at the top of a sophisticated conspiracy designed to deceive government departments that employed you to grant contracts to companies in which you had an undisclosed interest.’

The men’s appeals against the length of their sentences was dismissed by the Court of Appeal today (March 28).

Know more about this case? Tell us your story at The Whistle

To report corruption in Victoria, contact IBAC on 1300 735 135 or visit ibac.vic.gov.au.

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