ASIC probe into Perth rail link
WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder says he can't rule out insider trading by state government staff in relation to a major contract decision, but the corporate watchdog has so far not indicated any concern.
The Australian Securities Exchange queried NRW Holdings in February before and after it announced it had won the design, construction and maintenance contract for the $2 billion Forrestfield Airport Link, noting its share price had soared.
The contract award was announced on February 18 but the company's share price moved substantially in the preceding days, rising from 4.9 cents on February 12 to 6.4 cents on February 15.
The corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, is now investigating possible insider trading among state government staff, taking documents from Mr Nalder's office and public servants involved in the project's tender process.
Mr Nalder told parliament on Wednesday that he understood the tender evaluation committee didn't make its decision until February 16 - the day after the share price spike.
"We received that information well and truly after that share price spike so there can be no assertion that anybody in my ministerial office had anything to do with that," he said.
While Mr Nalder said ASIC had not explicitly indicated there should be any concern about the conduct of any state government employee, he could not rule out any wrongdoing.
"I cannot stand here and categorically say that someone within the staff has done something right or wrong.
"That's why I have to stand back and let an independent investigation be undertaken and await the findings of that outcome.
"But what I can assure you is that my office was not informed at the time of that share price spike - there was no flow of information to my office."
After the opposition put forward a motion calling for Mr Nalder to be condemned over what it called his incompetent handling of the allegations, maverick Liberal backbencher Rob Johnson suggested parliament should investigate the matter as well.
The motion was not carried.