Good old Ron Lake, one of Jeff Kennett's 'Cold War Warriors' who re-invented himself and 'served' new masters and became a less than popular regional director...now apparently...allegedly....Ron was busy buying CSG shares and....pushing the boundaries!
More news from IBAC
In one recording, Mr Lake told his friend and former education department deputy secretary Darrell Fraser that he did not care if the phone was bugged.
"If people are listening to this, $%$^ them," he said, drawing muffled laughter from the court room.
"We've done nothing wrong," he said. "Jesus Christ, you're allowed to have a life. If they examined everything I did as a principal, did I push the bloody boundaries? Absolutely I did."
Mr Fraser confessed in the recordings that he too pushed boundaries.
"It seemed right to me at the time," Mr Fraser said.
In a separate recording, Mr Lake frantically told Mr Fraser that his partner had been served with papers from the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption hearing while at their holiday house in Merimbula, on the south coast of New South Wales.
"What in the %&*^'s going on?," he exclaimed.
IBAC is examining how contracts were awarded and tendered for Ultranet, a disastrous $240 million IT project for Victorian state schools that was dumped in 2013 due to technical issues.
Mr Lake was a member of the Ultranet project board and bought $160,000 worth of CSG shares after the company was awarded the $60 million Ultranet contract. The inquiry was told he purchased the bulk of the shares on July 31, 2009, a day before CSG announced that it had acquired Delexian Pty Ltd.
Mr Lake told the hearing that he repaid a $10,500 loan to his partner Julie Baker, who was a former assistant regional director in the department. Ms Baker drove to a stockbroker and bought $10,500 worth of CSG shares on the same day she received the money. She told the hearing on Thursday that she had asked her partner for some advice on buying shares. "He said 'why don't you try the Ultranet?'"
Counsel assisting Ian Hill, QC, said commercial in confidence material was discussed during the Ultranet project board meetings. He questioned Mr Lake about whether this information influenced his decision to buy shares in CSG.
Mr Lake denied this, and said he bought the shares because he believed in Ultranet, and CSG was performing well on the stock exchange.
He later said a fellow board member told him CSG shares had grown from 42c to $1.09 overnight.
Mr Lake failed to disclose his shares to the board, but told Mr Fraser, who called him a "a silly bastard". He said he also told his former brother-in-law Tony Bugden, who was the chair of the board. Mr Lake was eventually replaced on the board after Mr Fraser raised concerns about his conflict of interests.
Mr Fraser, took an executive job with CSG in July 2011, two years after he was instrumental in giving the company its biggest-ever contract.
Mr Lake was asked to leave the Department in 2012 and immediately started work in Saudi Arabia alongside his partner Ms Baker. He is the Director General of Riyadh Schools, a group of 11 schools with 3400 students in the middle east.
"I left the department on a Friday and started in Saudi Arabia on the Monday," he told the inquiry.
IBAC is investigating whether Education Department employees received gifts, travel and job opportunities due to their involvement in Ultranet, and whether they bought shares in the company that won the multimillion-dollar IT contract.
Ultranet was meant to deliver an online platform that connected teachers, parents and students, but it was plagued with technical glitches and rarely used after its rollout in 2010.
The hearing continues and I can hardly wait!
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