More alleged WA public servant corruption

·2-min read

Two West Australian public sector workers have been accused of directing work to preferred consultants in exchange for gifts and fancy meals.

The allegations levelled by WA's corruption watchdog involve staff at the Department of Communities, including a one-time assistant to disgraced former executive Paul Whyte.

Whyte was last year jailed for at least 10 years after he admitted stealing more than $27 million from the state.

In a report tabled to parliament, the Corruption and Crime Commission alleged Kerry Ravi and Maria Irdi had directed more than $7m worth of work to accounting firm Grant Thornton and law firm MinterEllison between 2012 and 2020.

In exchange, they were taken to high-end Perth restaurants and gifted corporate box sporting tickets, spa vouchers, flowers and expensive glassware.

None of those gifts were declared as required and attempts were made to conceal them, the report said.

The pair had been tasked with leading a "value for money" project aimed at reducing the department's GST liabilities, despite neither having expertise in the area.

They obtained their positions on the project through Whyte, who had previously employed Ms Ravi as an executive assistant.

After being examined by the commission, Ms Irdi was allegedly heard in an intercepted telephone conversation urging Ms Ravi to "put everything on Paul".

But the commission said there was no reason to believe Whyte had been actively involved in their actions.

"His wrongdoing provides no justification or excuse for the wrongdoing of others," the report said.

In a statement, Grant Thornton said it had identified issues related to the work several years ago and conducted its own internal investigation.

"We immediately engaged with the partner concerned and he subsequently left the firm," a spokeswoman said.

"We have since conducted an extensive revision and strengthening of our policies and training, particularly in relation to work for government clients."

MinterEllison chief executive Virgina Briggs said the firm had stood down a former partner.

"While this behaviour is isolated, it is clear that the processes underpinning our policies require strengthening, and we have initiated a program of changes to achieve this," she said in a statement.

The commission found Ms Ravi, who has since been sacked, had engaged in serious misconduct, using her position to gain a relative a job at Grant Thornton.

It was unable to form the same opinion regarding Ms Irdi because as a contractor, she was not technically a public officer.

The commission said the department had since strengthened its anti-corruption measures and reviewed key integrity policies.