The NSW Government is being urged to launch an independent investigation into the actions of former Liverpool City Council chief executive Carl Wulff after he was sentenced to five years in prison for engaging in serious corruption.
Mr Wulff and his wife Sharon Oxenbridge were both sentenced to prison last week for their involvement in a “sophisticated” scheme involving the use of bogus contracts and falsified invoices to funnel $240,000 in kickbacks from contractors in return for favourable treatment from Ipswich City Council during his time as CEO.
Shortly after engaging in this corrupt scheme, Mr Wulff took up the position of CEO at Liverpool City Council in Sydney’s west, one of the largest local government areas in NSW.
The United Services Union, which represents local government workers including the majority of staff at Liverpool City Council, said the only way the NSW Government could restore public trust in the actions and decision-making of the council under Mr Wulff’s leadership would be through a wide-ranging, independent, investigation into every contract, decision, and policy he oversaw.
“Our members, on behalf of the local community they serve, are demanding that Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton, and the Office of Local Government, immediately set in train a thorough, independent, properly resourced inquiry to ensure Mr Wulff’s corrupt behaviour did not continue,” USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said.
“There were numerous concerning allegations made during Mr Wulff’s tenure at Liverpool City Council — including at least one that was examined by the Independent Commission Against Corruption — but his admission that he engaged in a complex, ongoing kickback arrangement in his previous employment surely demands a more thorough investigation now take place.
“In particular, there must be an examination into similar incidents to those Mr Wulff has been convicted of where his decisions resulted in major financial benefits to private businesses, and whether those businesses were providing kickbacks or other incentives.
“They say a leopard doesn’t change its spots, so when someone admits to engaging in a sophisticated, long-running, corrupt arrangement at one council, it seems only prudent that their actions at other councils where they had even more power and greater finances at their disposal should be reviewed.”
Mr Kelly said the investigation should also examine the huge financial settlement paid to Mr Wulff on his departure from Liverpool City Council.
“Mr Wulff left Liverpool in disgrace, he was forced out after elected councillors found that he had misled them over the exposure of workers and community members to deadly asbestos, yet he was rewarded with a payout worth nearly half a million dollars,” he said.
“The ratepayers of Liverpool deserve to know why Mr Wulff was given such a generous severance package, and if it is found that he continued to engage in corrupt activities at this council there should be actions taken to return this money to the people of Liverpool.”
Media contact: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313