Corruption and Crime Commission recommends man be prosecuted over alleged $281k hospital fraud

WA’s corruption watchdog has called for possible prosecution of a man who allegedly gained hundreds of thousands of dollars through a “devious” fraud while working at a Perth hospital.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) has tabled a report in parliament regarding senior biomedical engineer Suresh Kumar, who was responsible for maintenance of medical equipment at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

The CCC said Mr Kumar set up a business registered to his wife, and added it as a supplier, to gain a financial benefit.

He allegedly gained $281,000 between March 2022 and August 2023.

Referring to the report’s findings, CCC Commissioner John McKechnie said checks were not done.

“No one ever checked the provenance of this new business,” he said.

CCC chief John McKechnie says checks were not done on the the business.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

“Despite the fact that it was operating in a very specialised area with only a very limited number of reputable suppliers.”

No proper checks

Mr McKechnie said the CCC found the “devious” behaviour took advantage of a practice that enabled anyone who was authorised to add suppliers to the database without proper checks.

In Mr Kumar’s case, the CCC alleged he submitted requests for quotes to the business, named Metaphor Medtronix Solutions (MMS), and responded to the requests himself.

MMS was then issued with purchase orders.

Mr Kumar allegedly gained $281,000 via the business while working at the hospital.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

There would allegedly be phoney invoices for repairs not done and parts not provided.

The CCC found that MMS had a website which “purported” to show it was an established company.

The CCC described the arrangement as a “perfect circle”, and acted after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

It said in its report that Mr Kumar allegedly “spent some of the money he obtained on gambling and cryptocurrency”.

Mr Kumar’s employment was terminated in November 2023.

WA’s Corruption and Crime Commission tabled the report in parliament.(ABC News: Dave Weber)

The CCC found Mr Kumar engaged in “serious misconduct” and has recommended criminal prosecution be considered by an appropriate authority.

A finding of “serious misconduct” by the commission does not amount to a finding that a person is guilty of or has committed an offence.

‘Serious misconduct’ 

The CCC has been seeking to highlight procurement misconduct to alert the public sector to the risks.

In another report tabled in parliament, the CCC detailed the case of Dario Pacifici, who was employed to manage facilities and maintenance services at Murdoch University in 2021 and 2022.

Part of his role was to engage contractors, and one of them was BM OnDemand, which provided property and maintenance services.

The CCC report said the company was registered in the names of Mr Pacifici’s wife and a friend.

The CCC has alleged Mr Pacifici “used his influence and power to ensure a steady stream of work worth more than $1,000,000”.

Murdoch University’s Perth campus. (Supplied: Murdoch University)

BM OnDemand operated from a workshop on the Murdoch campus, and in 2022, according to the CCC report, Mr Pacifici allegedly organised a waiver that enabled the company to gain a contract without it going to market.

The CCC reported that Mr Pacifici allegedly took steps to conceal his involvement.

The CCC has stated that during 2021 and 2022, Mr Pacifici used his position to procure a financial benefit “of $72,883.77 for himself” and his wife.

In August 2022, Murdoch University received reports about Mr Pacifici and stood him down, informed the CCC of the allegations and engaged Ernst & Young to investigate.

His employment was terminated in September 2022 and BM OnDemand’s contract was also terminated.

The CCC has said that while having a conflict of interest is not itself serious misconduct, it can be said to occur when a public officer takes advantage of their employment to gain a benefit.

The CCC formed an opinion of serious misconduct.

The report said Mr Pacifici started full-time work with BM OnDemand in November 2022.

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