Two former council staff accepted gifts

TWO FORMER employees of Byron and Ballina Shire Councils have been found to have engaged in corrupt conduct, according to a statement released yesterday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

One of the men, Glen Lapham, a Ballina Shire Council employee from 2009 to 2011, was also recommended for prosecution by ICAC for "wilfully obstructing or hindering the Commission's exercise of its functions" and giving misleading evidence to ICAC.

The findings centre on the regular acceptance by the men of personal gifts from two council suppliers, NCH Australia Pty Ltd and R&R Tape Supplies.

During his tenure at Ballina Shire Council Mr Lapham was identified as accepting gifts including a camcorder, iPhone, DVD sets and a barbecue worth $3572 from NCH, a cleaning and chemical supplier.

At the request of Mr Lapham, several of the gifts were sent to his home address, directly contravening Ballina council's code of conduct.

NCH sales representative Jacqueline Verdeyen, who was responsible for authorising the gifts, was also found as engaging in corruption, alongside NCH general manager Peter La-Vite and several other NCH salespeople.

The investigation found that: "Mrs Verdeyen actively and deliberately used NCH's promotions program to provide Mr Lapham with the promotional items... for his personal benefit, for the purpose of securing orders from him and thereby increasing her sales".

Former Byron Shire Council employee Robert Vagne was also identified by ICAC as receiving gift vouchers totalling $500 from safety gear supplier R&R Tape Supplies.

The investigation found that 22 employees or former employees of 14 local councils and 15 employees of supplier companies around the state were engaged in corrupt conduct.

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