ICAC council probe

ALLEGED kickbacks to staff of Clarence Valley Council and the former Grafton City Council are set to come under the microscope of the Independent Commission Against Corruption as it investigates 110 public authorities across the state.

The investigation, Operation Jarek, is looking into allegations that employees of the public authorities accepted benefits including gift cards and other items from companies in return for placing orders and continuing business relationships with these companies.

Both councils, along with Lismore City Council, Ballina Shire Council, the RTA, the NSW Police Force and the education department, are included in the 88 local councils and 22 government authorities under investigation by ICAC commissioner David Ipp, QC.

An ICAC spokesperson said the commission could not disclose what the matters involving both councils related to or when the matters would go before the investigation being conducted in Sydney.

Clarence Valley Council's acting general manager Mike Colreavy said he wasn't aware the council was being investigated until The Daily Examiner broke the news to him.

"I have been following media reports over the last few days and when it was first announced I enquired with the ICAC as to whether our council was on the list," he said.

"I was told that the ICAC was not releasing that information.

"But I was also told that other council names that weren't released as part of the initial investigation may come out over the next several days."

As he only started his role on July 11, Mr Colreavy said he wasn't privy to any matters in the past two years that would come under the scrutiny of the ICAC other than an incident that occurred in April this year.

Mr Colreavy said the incident, which was referred to the ICAC, involved a non-senior council staff member who accepted a $50 voucher from a business.

"I am not aware if there is a specific connection between that and the matters the ICAC are looking into," he said.

The staff member involved in the incident kept their job but Mr Colreavy said they faced strong disciplinary action.

Mr Colreavy said he didn't know the details of any matters involving Grafton City Council that ICAC may probe.

Former Grafton City Council general manager Ray Smith said during his tenure there were no matters he could recall involving kickbacks to staff that had been referred to the ICAC.

He said the only matter involving the ICAC he could recall during his time at the council was in relation to the location of the Grafton landfill.



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