Corruption probe finds serious risk of misconduct in $2.8m WA ports tender

A report by Western Australia’s corruption watchdog has identified ‘serious misconduct risks’ in relation to a tender awarded by the Mid West Ports Authority (MWPA) to a company owned by a former Mayor.

Former Mayor Shane Van Styn: no evidence of impropriety

The MWPA is a government-owned department tasked with operating and managing Geraldton Port, a major international trade and tourism gateway into WA.

A WA Crime and Corruption and Crime Commission report released last week focuses on the awarding of the $2.8 million tender for security services at the Port of Geraldton to a company owned by former City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn.

The report said the probe did not find serious misconduct on the part of any public officer involved in the tender, and did not find any evidence of impropriety on the part of the company that won the tender or Mr Van Styn.

However, the investigation identified several serious misconduct risks related to ‘deviation from standard procurement and tender procedures’.

 “State Government agencies spend about $27 billion for goods and services every year which makes tendering and procurement a high-risk area for corruption and serious misconduct,” Commissioner John McKechnie said.

“Each of these deviations represents a serious misconduct risk.”

Questions about tender process

Sun City Security, which later became Forefront Security, provided the security services to the Port of Geraldton from October 2012

After the contract expired a tender involving increased onsite security commenced in late 2020, with the contract awarded to Forefront.

“Elements of the tender process were brought to the attention of the Corruption and Crime Commission which led to the commencement of an investigation,” Mr McKechnie said.

His report notes that Forefront ranked second on the qualitative criteria and “the Commission couldn’t find a legitimate justification for why the tender was not awarded to the highest scoring applicant”.

Other ‘deviations’ that were identified included

  • failure to adhere to the MWPA Corporate Delegatons Manual
  • misleading and inaccurate statements that appeared to favour the award of the contract to the incumbent in a presentation to the executive
  • failure to adequately record pertinent information and decisions during the tender process

“It is emphasised that the investigation found no evidence of impropriety by Forefront or Mr Van Styn,” the report concludes.

“The purpose of this report is to draw attention to the serious misconduct risks that have been identified.”

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