Operation Sandon special report
An investigation into allegations of corrupt conduct involving councillors and property developers in Melbourne's south-east. This report also examines the effectiveness of Victoria's systems and controls for safeguarding the integrity of the state's planning processes.
The demand for housing in Victoria is high, with the state’s population projected to grow to eight million by 2050. There is particularly high demand for housing in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, including in the Casey Council area in Melbourne’s South-East. Victorians rely heavily on the private sector to supply housing for the community’s needs, and property developers play an essential role in the growth of our cities and regions, including the supply of housing through the development of greenfield (undeveloped land in urban or rural areas) sites. Profits associated with property development can be significant.
In November 2017, IBAC authorised a preliminary inquiry into allegations of serious corrupt conduct concerning Mr Sameh Aziz, a Casey councillor.
IBAC expanded the investigation in October 2018 to consider the conduct of developer Mr John Woodman, and another Casey councillor, Mr Geoff Ablett, and whether the Casey councillors accepted undeclared payments, gifts, or other benefits - including political donations - in exchange for favourable council outcomes.
IBAC’s investigation was primarily concerned with four planning matters involving Mr John Woodman and his associates. Each matter involved the Casey Council as decision-maker, and two required the Minister for Planning to make a determination.
IBAC’s investigation examined the conduct of public officers – elected or not – at both state and local government levels.