Strange case of dob-a-job
THE man who referred Auburn Council mayor and developer Ronney Oueik to the Independent Commission Against Corruption now has a job spruiking apartments for the man he dobbed in.
Former Auburn Council executive manager of planning Glenn Francis was the most important planning witness at the 2016 public inquiry into the sacked Auburn Council and former deputy mayor Salim Mehajer.
But Mr Francis fell sick when he was due to give evidence publicly and when he got into the witness stand three months later in August 2016, he “refused to answer a number of questions on the ground that the answer might incriminate him”, according to Auburn Council Public Inquiry Commissioner Richard Beasley SC.
Unlike a royal commission, the inquiry did not have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
Three years later Mr Francis has been employed as a town planner and contractor for Mr Oueik.
“I was gobsmacked when I saw him working for Ronney,” former Auburn councillor Tony Oldfield said.
There is no suggestion Mr Francis or Mr Oueik are involved in any illegal activity. There was no adverse finding against Mr Oueik by the ICAC and there was no formal investigation by the ICAC into this matter.
Mr Francis appeared personally in front of the Cumberland Planning Panel July 24 and October 9 on behalf of Mr Oueik’s Rolz Group development company.
A panel — including some of his former employees — grilled him on the development’s excessive height and design flaws, including bedrooms sharing a common wall with the living areas of adjoining units. The development is awaiting final approval.
Mr Francis failed to return calls but Mr Oueik said his contractor “is a smart boy”. “The best thing to come out of the inquiry is Glenn working for me,” Mr Oueik, who is the director of at least 23 property development companies, said. “Politicians go into private companies after their careers all the time. So what if I have given him a job?”
In 2006 when Mr Oueik was a councillor and Mr Francis was the manager of development assessment on council, Mr Oueik’s tradesmen installed kitchen cabinets worth $2000 in Mr Francis’ home.
The Auburn City Council Public Inquiry heard Mr Oueik refused Mr Francis’s repeated attempts to pay him.
Mr Francis referred the matter to ICAC around May 2016 — 10 years after the incident and shortly before he gave evidence in private session to the Auburn council inquiry.
Salim Mehajer with Ronney Oueik in their Auburn Council days and (inset) Glenn Francis.