Two contractors are sentenced for providing home renovations, flights, hotels and lavish meals to a former senior government executive in exchange for government contracts.

A Perth builder has been jailed for billing the WA taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars for renovation work on the homes of a former senior government executive and his mother.
Key points:

  • The builder inflated the value of invoices for work on Perth hospitals
  • A second man paid for free flights and a hotel for the same executive
  • The bribery was uncovered through a CCC investigation

The sentence came on the same day another businessman narrowly avoided jail, but was hit with a big fine, for lavishing bribes in the form of travel and meals to the same executive in exchange for government contracts.
Liam Howard, 37, inflated 18 invoices for legitimate work done at Perth hospitals to cover about $43,000 worth of work done on the Glen Forrest home of former North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) executive John Fullerton in 2015.
The WA District court was today told Howard did a further $3,500 worth of work at the home of Mr Fullerton’s mother, but she was unaware the taxpayer had paid the bill.
The court heard the scheme was organised by a second health department executive, Grant Alexander, who took his own life earlier this year and who was described in a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) report as “the fixer”.
‘Greedy public servants’
Howard’s lawyer, Darryl Ryan, said his client could have said he was not going to be part of the fraudulent scheme, but he understood if he said no he would not be getting any further contracts from the NMHS.
Judge Troy Sweeney described Howard’s offences as “a sustained, serious and dishonest course of conduct”.
John Fullerton has been charged with dozens of fraud and corruption offences.(Facebook)
She said he had “ripped off” taxpayers who would not want their hard-earned taxes “lining the pockets of greedy public servants”.
Judge Sweeney accepted Howard had actually done the work for which he was paid, but she said he knew the billing arrangement was wrong and what he was doing was dishonest.
“You were a critical cog in the wheel you enabled $46,700 of taxpayers’ money to be used for Mr Fullerton’s benefit.”
Judge Sweeney took into account Howard’s early pleas of guilty to the 18 fraud charges against him in deciding that a nine-month jail term was the appropriate penalty.
He will have to serve four and a half months before he can be released on parole.
Businessman lavished flights, hotels and meals in bribes
Earlier today another Perth businessman, who bribed Mr Fullerton with almost $5,000 worth of flights and accommodation, avoided a jail term and was instead fined $18,000.
Ian Tremain, 75, was the managing director of environmental company QED when he paid for Mr Fullerton to fly with his wife to Melbourne in 2012 and 2013.
The District Court today heard Tremain’s company paid almost $3,000 for the return flights and almost $2,000 for the Fullertons’ accommodation at the Crown Towers, plus met the expenses for their evening meals and entertainment.
The court heard in the same two-year period Tremain’s company invoiced the NMHS for more than $1.72 million worth of work.
Contractor Ian Tremain’s relationship with a senior WA Health executive goes back two decades.(ABC News: Manny Tesconi)
State prosecutor Robert Owen said the two men had known each other for more than 20 years and over a seven-year period Tremain’s company had spent in excess of $24,000 “wining and dining” Mr Fullerton at well-known Perth restaurants.
Tremain was not charged with any offences arising from the meals, but Mr Owen said they and the two bribes had ensured his company remained in favour with Mr Fullerton, who after rising up the ranks of the Health Department was able to influence the awarding of contracts.
But Tremain’s lawyer, Sam Vandongen SC, said at the time of his client’s offences Mr Fullerton was not responsible for awarding contracts for the small jobs worth about $2,000 that Tremain’s company was doing, which was the responsibility of lower-level managers.
Mr Vandongen said the bribes did not result in any direct financial benefit, but were given more to keep Tremain’s company “relevant” and “at the forefront” of Mr Fullerton’s mind should it bid for any larger contracts for major works.
He said Tremain was a “generous” person and the bribes happened in the context of a decades-old friendship, and what he described as “the imposing nature” of Mr Fullerton’s personality.
Bribes ‘strike at integrity’ of public service
Tremain pleaded guilty to charges of bribing a public official and in sentencing Judge Sweeney accepted he had been a person of “unblemished” character and was remorseful and embarrassed about what he had done.
She also took into account the fact Tremain had given an undertaken to testify in further court proceedings.
But she said he paid the bribes with a view to obtaining a benefit and to stay in Mr Fullerton’s favour, and be at the forefront of his mind should he bid for bigger projects.
“The bribery involved strikes at the integrity of public servants and can lead to a loss of faith in the public service,” Judge Sweeney said.
The charges against Tremain came after a Corruption and Crime Commission investigation in 2018.
Mr Fullerton was charged earlier this year with dozens of fraud and corruption offences.
He is yet to enter pleas to the charges.