Horizon Power technology manager Paul Thomas corruptly exploited his position to have the utility pay Trusted Solutions IT, a company he owned, a report from Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) has alleged.
TSIT offered managed IT services, IT project services and contractor recruitment services, the CCC said.
Thomas used his position “to claim falsely that TSIT carried out work for Horizon Power,” the CCC report claimed - the CCC inquiry was sparked by allegations the anti-corruption body received in 2016.
Thomas joined Horizon Power in March 2010 as a service delivery manager - after a restructure in 2013, he was appointed manager of technology and reported to the utility’s corporate services general manager.
The CCC report alleges that Thomas used his position to covertly commit Horizon Power to paying ongoing fees to TSIT without revealing that he owned the company.
The CCC said that he also engaged his wife as a contractor “to perform a role so that he could pay down credit card debt”, but there was no suggestion that Thomas' wife acted corruptly in any way.
In total, Horizon Power paid more than $300,000 in recruitment agency margin fees to TSIT, the CCC report stated.
“Mr Thomas agreeing that Horizon Power would pay agency margin fees to TSIT, a company in which he was an owner and director, was more than a conflict of interest,” the report claimed.
“Mr Thomas used his position at Horizon Power to gain a financial benefit for TSIT and himself. Mr Thomas accepted in evidence that it was his use of the authority that Horizon Power gave him to engage contractors which resulted in TSIT being paid those agency margin fees.”
Thomas, who has resigned from Horizon Power, has rejected the CCC’s findings.
The CCC report recommended that consideration be given to charging Thomas with corruption and fraud.
Horizon Power is owned by the WA government. It provides electricity to around 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses across regional and remote parts of WA.
A Horizon Power spokesperson said the utility welcomed the CCC report.
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“Horizon Power reported the alleged misconduct to the Corruption and Crime Commission in 2016 when it became aware of the allegations,” the spokesperson said.
“Horizon Power has been fully and openly cooperating with the CCC since the start of the investigation, and will continue until these matters are resolved.”
“The evidence we provided the committee showed that our policies, processes and procedures are robust, and well understood by our employees and contractors,” said Horizon Power acting chief executive Mike Houlahan.
“Horizon Power has continued to strengthen and reinforce its policies, processes and procedures, including reminding employees of their obligations to behave ethically, morally, and as good corporate citizens.
“A great deal of trust is placed in public officers who have authority to spend government funds. This is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in the workplace to do whatever we can to ensure events like this do not happen again.”