A corruption hearing in Perth has been told how nearly $3 million was allegedly transferred from Western Australia’s Housing Department to benefit disgraced public servant Paul Whyte.
- The money was paid to a company and allegedly transferred to Paul Whyte
- Whyte is accused of using the money to help buy a house in Mosman Park
- He has already admitted hundreds of unrelated corruption offences
The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) is conducting an examination of whether Whyte misappropriated funds when he was with the department in 2012 and 2013.
Whyte has already pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges unrelated to the public examination.
At the centre of the current inquiry is the Hamilton Fly Camp, a proposed workers accommodation project at South Hedland.
A former general manager of Australian Civils, Stephen Edgar, told the CCC the company’s director Andrew Mitchell ordered him to invoice the Housing Department for more than $3 million.
The invoice was sent from Ausmodular, an Australian Civils company focused on temporary housing.
Mr Edgar told the CCC he did not feel comfortable with the arrangement, because the company did not have any orders and had not placed any, but said Mr Mitchell told him “this is how we’ve got to do it”.
He said he “didn’t think it was right”.
Witness believed Whyte would get money
Mr Edgar said after the money came in, in January 2013, he was then told to transfer about $2.9 million to an account.
He said he believed the “money was going to be paid out to Paul Whyte” personally, and he was told it was going to be paid back.
The CCC has already been told the funds were used by Whyte to buy a house in Mosman Park.
Further invoices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars were sent to the Housing Department and were paid.
Mr Edgar said no work was done on the Hamilton Fly Camp, although he had thought it was a legitimate project.
He continued to work for Australian Civils for several more years.
“I was told to do something, I just did it,” he said.
When he was asked why he had not told authorities, Mr Edgar replied: “I know some things, I’m not a person who tells tales.”
He said he had been concerned about future job security.
Mr Edgar told the CCC he had no common financial interests with Whyte.
Mr Mitchell was arrested in July and has been charged, but not in relation to the Hamilton Fly Camp.
Australian Civils helped Aboriginal community
The CCC was told Australian Civils had provided accommodation for the Warmun community after flooding in 2011.
Mr Edgar said he believed this was how the company came to the attention of the Housing Department.
He said Mr Mitchell “ran into” Whyte, who asked if the work could be done.
He told the CCC “everyone was running mad” because of the problems “up there”.
The State Government had approached bigger companies that could not do it.
Counsel assisting the Commission put it to Mr Edgar that the total of the Warmun work was $30 million.
“It does surprise me,” Mr Edgar replied.