Strange case of dob-a-job

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SELL - BEN PIKE UR­BAN AF­FAIRS RE­PORTER

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.