Metro Trains manager tipped off Transclean about audit during Victoria’s second COVID-19 wave, IBAC hears


A Metro Trains manager tipped off a cleaning company about a surprise COVID-19 cleaning audit during Melbourne’s deadly second coronavirus wave last year, a corruption inquiry has heard.

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is holding an inquiry into alleged corrupt payments from a cleaning company to two public transport officials.

Today’s IBAC hearing heard an intercepted phone call in which now-sacked Metro Trains manager Peter Bollas gave advance warning to cleaning company Transclean about a surprise COVID-19 cleaning audit. 

Transclean provided cleaning services to V/Line and Metro Trains, and last year Mr Bollas admitted to IBAC he received up to $150,000 in corrupt cash payments from Transclean.

On Wednesday, the commission revealed these payments to Mr Bollas and former V/Line chief executive James Pinder included monthly cash payments of $10,000 from the cleaning company.

The tapped phone call played today revealed Mr Bollas giving dates and times of the surprise cleaning audits to Transclean employee, Steven Kyritsis, and also telling him to improve their special COVID-sanitising procedure, inferring it might not be up to standard.

“The spraying needs to get better,” Mr Bollas told Mr Kyritsis on July 13, referring to the microbial spraying mandated by Metro to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

This was days after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the extension of Melbourne’s second lockdown, due to a spike in cases.

The tapped phone call also captured Mr Bollas telling Mr Kyritsis he may need to change timesheets to pass the independent audit.

 “If the sign-on sheets don’t show your people are working additional hours … you’ve failed,” Mr Bollas said in the call.

“Do not f*** it up.”

Mr Kyritsis responded by saying he had “redone all the documentation for North (Melbourne station), refilled, checked it”.

But under questioning at the IBAC hearing, Mr Kyritsis denied their cleaning was not adequate and public safety was at risk.

He also denied he had changed time sheets.

Earlier, Mr Kyritsis admitted he and his uncle, Transclean co-owner George Haritos, had conspired to sabotage a trial by Metro Trains testing a new microbial sanitiser to help with COVID cleaning.

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Australia last year, the amount of cleaning provided by Transclean jumped, along with their income from Metro Trains.

In May, Metro Trains started to test a new microbial sanitiser, which claimed to have a longer residual effect, so it did not need to be sprayed as often.

If this product was used, it could have significantly reduced the amount of time Transclean staff spent sanitising train carriages.

Phone intercepts played today heard Mr Kyritsis and Mr Haritos discussing how to sabotage the trial, by running a dirty rag over train touchpoints.

Mr Bollas provided specific information about which train carriages were being tested by Metro.

The hearing continues.

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V/Line CEO James Pinder sacked amid corruption allegations, Transclean contract terminated



The head of Victoria’s regional train network has been sacked in the wake of his appearance before a corruption inquiry.

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.



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