The NSW anti-corruption authority has formally labelled former western Sydney TAFE IT exec Ronald Cordoba corrupt over a false invoicing scam that allegedly netted him more than $1.7 million.
Cordoba, who was the primary IT manager for TAFE’s South Western Sydney Institute, was hauled before ICAC in August to answer claims he abused his position of authority to cheat the campus out of hundreds of thousands of dollars between January and July 2014.
Cordoba admitted to a number of frauds against the government-run institute, including charging for a fake cloud service run from a server in his own home.
He covered his tracks by issuing invoices using the name and ABN of a company he had no connection to, and writing emails under a false name from a fake email account.
He used his position at SWSI TAFE to register his front company as a pre-qualified supplier on the Department of Education’s finance system, and then had members of his staff issue work orders to the business that he would subsequently approve himself.
In one instance, Cordoba signed off a work order for $150,000 worth of Dropbox enterprise licenses, which he bought himself from the cloud provider for just $70,000.
Evidence suggests it cost Cordoba about $500,000 to deliver goods and services to TAFE under the moniker of ITD , for which he issued $1.7 million worth of invoices, leaving him to pocket the remainder as a hefty profit.
ICAC has now referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider formal criminal charges against Cordoba for fraud against TAFE and IT provider Cloud People, as well as for lying to both an ICAC officer and the watchdog more broadly during a compulsory examination.
It has ruled out any role in the fraud by Cloud People and its director Jason Kinsella, after Cordoba convinced the contractor it needed to subcontract a slice of its own TAFE work to him at a cost of $55,000.
The DPP has a mixed record when it comes to testing corrupt IT officials in court.
In 2014 former Department of Education IT contractor David Johnson was sent to jail for directing work to his own company and profiting to the tune of $437,000.
But the DPP dropped its case against Atilla Demiralay, who the ICAC had accused of enacting a similar invoicing fraud against his then-employer, the University of Sydney.
ICAC has advised SWSI TAFE to tighten up its procurement checks and balances to guard against a repeat of the Cordoba incident, including increased scrutiny of expenditure by the finance unit, and regular audits to detect anomalies in its invoice payment system.
It also advised the TAFE campus to build formal value realisation procedures to check it is getting value for money from its IT projects.