'Disgraceful': train cleaner contract had 'secret link'

A cleaning contract for trains during the COVID-19 pandemic was handed to a company secretly connected to public transport staff, a barrister says.

James Pinder, the former chief executive of V/Line - one of Victoria's largest rail networks - is before the Melbourne Magistrates Court accused of major misconduct by the state's corruption watchdog.

The former rail boss was accused of corruptly receiving special consideration from cleaning services provider Transclean Facilities.

He fronted a committal hearing on Monday alongside Transclean director George Haritos and four other people.

Former Transclean managers gave evidence on Monday they did not witness anything untoward before the cleaning company was granted the contract to clean V/Line carriages and facilities in 2018.

Former executive Alex Panayi said he was shocked watching Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission public hearings, which aired allegations of corruption about Transclean's procurement process.

Former V/Line chief executive James Pinder
James Pinder is accused of corruptly receiving special consideration from a cleaning services firm. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

After Transclean was dumped after the allegations, the cleaning contract for Metro Trains was given to Maxx Pro - a company with secret connections to Metro Trains staff, barrister Philip Dunn KC said.

Former metro manager Peter Bollas and his colleague George Zilellis were "silent partners" of the cleaning company by the time it took over the Metro contract in December 2020, the barrister said.

Mr Dunn - representing Haritos - said the connection was "apparently acceptable" to the corruption watchdog.

"We now have a disgraceful situation where Maxx Pro has got silent partners (at Metro)," the barrister said.

Former Transclean contract manager Norma Ottone said she told the corruption watchdog Bollas was friends with Maxx Pro's owners.

She heard rumours about his wealth and several homes and flagged it with the corruption watchdog so it might look into the matter, she said.

At one point, the contract to clean graffiti from Metro trains was taken from Transclean and given to Maxx Pro, Ms Ottone said.

"Did it become a joke … that what would happen is Maxx Pro would have people sitting in vans waiting to come and clean graffiti while your people were (already inside) cleaning trains?" Mr Dunn asked.

"Yes," Ms Ottone said.

Metro staff inspected Transclean's work but after Maxx Pro took over, the checks stopped, she said.

Pinder was charged with eight offences including misconduct and receiving or soliciting commissions, while Haritos was facing five charges including giving a secret commission.

Transclean co-director Alex Kyritsis, employees Steven Kyritsis and Maria Tsakopolos, and Tsakopolos's lawyer Steven Benedict Collin also fronted the committal hearing on Monday charged with conspiracy.

The committal hearing before Magistrate Stephen Ballek continues on Tuesday.