QLD racing's dark history of dodgy practices
QUEENSLAND Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said an exhaustive inquiry into the state's racing industry has unveiled a dark history full of dodgy practices being run in a shambolic way.
The findings into the highly-anticipated Queensland Racing Commission of Inquiry were handed to the State Government today with Commissioner Margaret White recommending 10 people be referred to Australia's corporate watchdog ASIC for further investigation.
Ms White was asked to investigate wide-ranging aspects of the state's multi-million dollar racing industry after allegations of corruption and back room deals emerged last year.
They included tender processes for various projects at Mackay, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast, aspects of the boards' corporate governance, payouts given to four former Racing Queensland staff and the movement of $20 million from a racing development fund shortly before the 2012 state election.
The commissioner also investigated Sunshine Coast-based firm Contour Consulting Engineers who were awarded 37 contracts worth $5.5 million for projects across the state over a five year period.
She was also tasked with investigating the firm's role in the controversial decisions to install synthetic tracks at Clifford Park in Toowoomba and Corbould Park at Caloundra.
Ms White found that while Contour's contracts were not subjected to any competitive procurement process, it was a criticism of the governing bodies, not of the firm.
"As a consequence of the inadequate procurement practices the commission has found it impossible to determine, retrospectively, whether value for money was achieved in the infrastructure projects undertaken by Contour during the relevant period," she said.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the inquiry found serious adverse findings against former senior racing officials Bob Bentley and Bill Ludwig and both men could face serious charges as a result.
"This particular time in the industry was a very dark chapter," he said.
"It was the Bob Bentley show. He was allowed to run amok with his mate Bill Ludwig.
"The dark days of racing being run as someone's own private empire are now over.
"If you look at the potential ASIC charges they attract penalties of up to five years imprisonment and potentially more with Mr Bentley and the potential conflicts of interest."
Mr Bleijie said the State Government would consider referring the recommendations in the report to ASIC as well as directing Crown lawyers to look at whether cases against individuals named in the report could be established.