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Australia Retired Perth businessman narrowly avoids jail for bribing senior health official

08:45  02 june  2020
08:45  02 june  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Ian Tremain, 75, was sentenced in the Perth District Court on Tuesday after his dodgy dealings with North Metropolitan Health Service executive director John Fullerton were exposed in a Corruption and Crime Commission report uncovering an alleged fraud scandal.

The 2019 report alleged senior public servants Mr Fullerton, David Mulligan and Shaun Ensor took gratuities including overseas flights and accommodation from 11 contractors for a decade.

Retired Perth businessman narrowly avoids jail for bribing senior health official

  Retired Perth businessman narrowly avoids jail for bribing senior health official Tremain admitted to regularly wining and dining the North Metropolitan Health Service boss, and paying for he and his wife to travel to Melbourne on two occasions in 2012 and 2013 in exchange for staying in his good books.Ian Tremain, 75, was sentenced in the Perth District Court on Tuesday after his dodgy dealings with North Metropolitan Health Service executive director John Fullerton were exposed in a Corruption and Crime Commission report uncovering an alleged fraud scandal.

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All five contractors charged so far over the scam have pleaded guilty including Tremain, Anthony Williams, Philip Wood, Liam Howard and Garth Delavale.

Tremain admitted to regularly wining and dining Mr Fullerton, and paying for he and his wife to travel to Melbourne and stay at Crown Towers on two occasions in 2012 and 2013.

The total costs of the meals, which were eaten at some of Perth and Melbourne's most affluent restaurants, came to $24,000 over a period of seven years, but the state did not consider the meals a bribe.

But the flights and accommodation, totalling just under $5000, were.

Prosecutor Robert Owen said Tremain's business, QED Environmental Services Perth, received "many small jobs" at the NMHS averaging around $2000 and totalling $1.7 million over the two-year period.

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The income represented around 20 per cent of the business' turnover.

Tremain and Mr Fullerton - who is yet to enter a plea to a string of charges - had been friends for more than 20 years after meeting through their fields of work.

Mr Fullerton, the executive director of the NMHS, rose through the ranks during that time to be able to influence contracts awarded.

"In [Mr Fullerton's] position, he was able to award and influence contracts contrary to the procurement guidelines," Mr Owen said.

"It was evident the relationship [between Mr Fullerton and Tremain] was producing results.

"We're dealing with public money ... and we're dealing with offending where the integrity of public procurement is at stake."

Tremain's lawyer Sam Van Dongen said his client's wining and dining of Mr Fullerton was part of his old-school style of doing business and was made in the context of their long-standing friendship.

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"He was brought up when you take a client out for lunch, you pay for the meal," he said.

"It was the way in which it was done and Mr Tremain did not think it was inappropriate obviously but accepts now it was."

He said Tremain was a man of exemplary character and had been like a "rabbit in a spotlight" when he learnt of the charges against him and felt "a great deal of embarrassment" and remorse.

In handing down an $18,000 fine to Tremain, Judge Troy Denise Sweeney acknowledged Tremain was of prior good character but his efforts to stay in Mr Fullerton's good books and be considered for larger jobs was "subtle and insidious".

"You knew he had power and influence and as a successful businessman you know it was of benefit to QED that you kept in his good books," she said.

"I accept you're a generous and friendly person ... but this went beyond generosity and friendship ... this was business although it was also unethical and illegal.

"When you have such a relationship ... the playing field cannot be said to be level ... other companies may well be left with a justifiable sense of grievance."

Judge Sweeney also acknowledged Mr Fullerton was the one who had the ethical obligation to serve the community, and was the one who allegedly initiated being invited on trips with Tremain's family at QED's expense through his "imposing" nature.

Tremain is the first person involved in the NMHS scandal to be sentenced.

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The South Australian Police Association has slammed the court's decision.President of the Police Association Mark Carroll told 9News that "ordinary law-abiding citizens in this state would feel pretty annoyed by the decision".

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