The head of Victoria’s regional train network has been sacked in the wake of his appearance before a corruption inquiry.
- V/Line also terminated its contract with cleaning company Transclean
- The board said the alleged conduct of Mr Pinder and the cleaning company was not acceptable “under any circumstances”
- An IBAC inquiry heard Mr Pinder and a Metro trains manager collected cash payments from Transclean
The V/Line board of directors terminated the employment of chief executive James Pinder, effective from today.
Mr Pinder has been suspended since August, when the Department of Transport became aware he was the subject of an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) probe into serious misconduct claims in the state’s public transport sector.
The inquiry this week heard Mr Pinder and Metro Trains fleet manager Peter Bollas collected multiple cash payments of up to $10,000 from the boss of Transclean.
Transclean was awarded the contract to clean Victoria’s trams and trains, and Mr Bollas managed the cleaning contract at Metro Trains.
Mr Pinder has denied any wrongdoing, and claims the men were in a secret gambling syndicate.
However, on Wednesday Mr Bollas confessed to the inquiry he had taken up to $150,000 in corrupt cash payments from Transclean director George Haritos.
Late on Thursday, Metro Trains CEO Raymond O’Flaherty announced he had sacked Mr Bollas, who had been stood down since August.
In a statement, V/Line chair Gabrielle Bell said the board had also terminated its contract with Transclean.
“All V/Line employees and contractors are expected to uphold the highest levels of integrity,” Ms Bell said.
She said V/Line would continue to cooperate with the IBAC investigation and would “work to support the front-line cleaning staff who may be affected by this decision”.
Acting V/Line chief executive Gary Liddle will continue in the role until further notice.
In a secretly-recorded phone call played at an IBAC hearing today, Mr Bollas told Mr Haritos he would “cover up” for the cleaning company, after it emerged they failed to spray a Metro train at the start of Victoria’s first wave of coronavirus.
The State Opposition called on the Government to stand down the entire board at the regional rail network.
“Mr Pinder is gone, and that’s how it should be, but the position of the board is clearly untenable,” Shadow Transport Infrastructure Minister David Davis said.
“It is clear that the Department of Transport and its agencies are riddled with corruption,” he said.