Operation Helena was an investigation into allegations that former VicRoads employees obtained unlawful benefits from suppliers.
Operation Helena was an IBAC investigation into allegations that former VicRoads employees obtained unlawful benefits from suppliers.
The allegations specifically included:
- splitting of invoices to meet financial delegations
- altering invoice details
- obtaining benefits from suppliers, in the form of cash, meals and other gratuities
- payment of invoices for works not completed or excessively charged
- misappropriation of water rights attached to rural properties.
IBAC substantiated allegations that the former employees obtained unlawful benefits from suppliers and substantiated allegations that one of those employees directed contractors to split invoices, contrary to VicRoads policy. IBAC did not, however, find evidence that invoice-related fraud had occurred or that water rights had been misappropriated.
In the course of the investigation, IBAC identified several issues with VicRoads policies, processes and practices. The issues included an apparent culture within the relevant business unit of employees accepting gifts, benefits and hospitality from suppliers, and a failure to comply with VicRoads conflict of interest and procurement policies.
In May 2017, IBAC recommended that VicRoads review relevant policies, procedures and practices, review its audit and risk management programs, review its training, and communicate with suppliers as to why it is not appropriate to offer public sector employees, gifts, benefits and hospitality. In an interim response, VicRoads has advised that it has taken action including strengthening its gifts, benefits and hospitality policy, developing a procurement capability development program and introducing a supplier code of conduct.
IBAC publishes responses to our recommendations in order to inform the community about actions agencies advise they are taking, and to share learnings that may help other agencies improve their systems and practices.