Rich-lister Paul Darrouzet's involvement with Bruce Wilson's slush funds is coming back to bite him
Friday, 03 November 2017
Former Thiess HR manager Paul Darrouzet knows a thing or two about doing deals.
From a middle management position with Thiess in the 1990s, Darrouzet "hit the big time in 2008, when he and three other business partners sold a 70 per cent share of the Foxleigh mine in central Queensland to Anglo Coal for $712 million".
There'll be a lot more about Mr Darrouzet in Part Two of this article - for now here are a few newspaper clippings that tell a little of his story.
I wish this article could be as glowing as those above - or Mr Darrouzet's website http://pauldarrouzet.com.au/
Mr Darrouzet was central to the AWU Scandal - there at the beginning and right through to the end.
In June 1992 he co-ordinated the MOU between Thiess and the AWU over the Dawesville Channel contract.
Download 0180 - THIESS letter and MOU
In 1993 Darrouzet agreed to pay the Western Australia based AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc for a "consultancy" service associated with the Thiess Melbourne Water contract.
In 2014 Darrouzet told the Trade Union Royal Commission he agreed to pay up in answer to Wilson's "requests" because of the damage Wilson and the union could inflict on his business if it didn't pay.
To cut to the chase - Thiess and its executives like Mr Darrouzet were either
- hoodwinked into believing the AWU Workplace Reform Association was providing a legitimate service to Thiess (which was worth the fee for service Thiess paid) - or
- Thiess was paying secret commissions - or
- Thiess was Wilson's victim in extortion/blackmail
You will be the judge in relation to Mr Darrouzet and Thiess Contractors Pty Ltd
In February 1995, Thiess received the 6th of 7 AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc invoices for "consultancy" services associated with Melbourne Water.
The invoice for $20,160 was due for payment on 28 February. Paul Darrouzet's handwriting is on the invoice with the words "OK to pay, 22/3" and his initials.
Thiess processed the payment through its accounts payable department.
On 11 April 1995 Thiess issued cheque number 452352 for $20,160 made payable to "Australian Workers Union - Workplace Reform Association Inc". It was mailed to the secret post office box 253 Northbridge.
By early April 1995 Wilson and Blewitt were moved from their jobs as Secretaries of the Victoria and WA branches of the AWU into the newly formed National Construction Branch. New officials were installed to replace Wilson and Blewitt in Melbourne and Perth and irregularities in the financial accounts were coming to light.
On 12 April 1995 Wilson/Blewitt transferred the bulk of the money in the AWU WRA Inc account to another slush fund, the Construction Industry Fund.
On 21 April 1995 the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association Incorporated bank accounts were closed. It had disappeared.
Keep in mind Wilson now had a cheque from Thiess for $20,160 in his possession made out to the compromising AWU Workplace Reform Association. He held on to it for two months.
On 13 June 1995 Wayne Hem acting on Wilson's instructions deposited the Workplace Reform Association cheque into the AWU Members Welfare Association account.
Meanwhile Wilson's replacement in Melbourne Bob Smith was keenly investigating his predecessor's affairs.
On 6 July 1995 the CBA ran this report showing Melbourne accounts apparently associated with the Australian Workers Union.
That query brought up the official state funds account, a social club, the AWU Members Welfare Association (with a balance of $106K) and Re-election Fund - the mailing address for which was 85 Kerr Street Fitzroy and which was linked the the AWU Members Welfare Account by a transfer of funds it had provided in 1994.
On 14 July 1995 Wilson attempted to move all of the AWU Members Welfare Association money to his secret National Construction Fund. Unfortunately for Wilson he chose the same day as Bob Smith chose to put a freeze on all the AWU accounts.
Here's Wayne Hem's pay-in deposit slip to the Construction Industry Fund - notice that Wilson always handed the job of making the deposits to someone else?
ON 17 July the CBA wrote to Wilson to advise him of the stopped account and dishonoured cheque.
The following day the CBA answered Wilson's request for details of all the deposits made to the AWU Members Welfare Association account. Slater and Gordon opened its file on the National Construction Branch Accounts with GILLARD responsible for providing Wilson with legal advice.
On 2 August 1995 the AWU National Finance Committee met. Here's an extract from Ian Cambridge's statement about that meeting.
On 4 August, Bob Smith wrote to his national colleagues in the AWU stating his intention to bring charges against Wilson. That appears to have been the catalyst for GILLARD handing the WILSON matters over to her partner at Slater and Gordon Bernard MURPHY.
MURPHY commenced to negotiate the terms of WILSON's exit from the AWU.
On Saturday, 12 August, 1995 Melbourne's The Age newspaper published this report by Joanne Painter, written on Friday 11 August 1995.
MURPHY's sought a "no further investigations" proviso from the AWU in relation to the bank accounts.
On 17 August 1995 John Cain from Maurice Blackburn wrote to the CBA:
And this handwritten note records what actually happened at the bank.
Two cheques were made out to Thiess -
$20,160 (refunding the AWU Workplace Reform Association payment) and
$13,934.32 - being the balance of funds in the AWU Members Welfare Association account, plus the funds remaining in the Re-Election Fund!!!!
Here's the CBA internal paperwork for bank cheque 021415 for $20, 160 to Thiess - source of funds is AWU Members Welfare Account 9028.
And here's bank cheque 021416 to Thiess, a total of $13,934 - made up of whatever was left in Members Welfare and Re-Election fund.
Here's the first statement from Wilson's re-election fund - note Clifton Hill address.
The account was opened with a deposit of $15,000 on 11 June 1992, just on a fortnight before the AWU Workplace Reform Association was incorporated.
When the Kerr Street property was purchased, Wilson wasted no time in changing the registered address for the Re-Election Fund account.
Many questions arise from the way the Re-Election Fund was included in the payout to Thiess.
Why would Wilson agree to Thiess receiving "whatever was left over" from the AWU Members Welfare Association account, combined with remaining funds in his Re-Election fund? What was his relationship with Thiess, such that he felt confident in disposing of apparently tainted or problematic monies to Thiess?
On 11 September GILLARD's exit interview was conducted at Slater and Gordon.
On 13 September this story by Joanne Painter was published in The Age.
The word was out as to which companies Wilson had been cutting "deals" with.
Ian Cambridge wasted no time in contacting those companies.
On 15 September 1995 Cambridge wrote to Thiess Contractors and the other companies to which monies had been returned.
Cambridge received prompt responses from each of the companies he'd written to - with one exception. Thiess. It took a subpoena from the Industrial Relations Court and one year of waiting for a reply.
The topic of Wilson's departure and the payments initially from those companies along with the refunding of those funds was generating considerable chatter in IR and construction industry circles.
On 25 September 1995 another Joanne Painter story was published in The Age. It's important because it shows Darrouzet's initial attempt to deflect attention from the AWU Workplace Reform Association funds with a false cover story about asbestos contaminated soil.
Cutting to the chase - on 4 September Paul Darrouzet was at a meeting with John Sutton, the then national secretary of the CFMEU. Wilson's departure was a topic of conversation on everyone's lips and naturally Sutton asked Thiess about payments it had made - by then the details of where the Members Welfare slush fund money had come from were fairly widely known.
It's significant that Darrouzet lied. There was no $25K payment for a contaminated soil study. Wilson may well have given the green light to Thiess using the soil - but Darrouzet lied about making only one payment to the AWU and he chose the wrong AWU officials to implicate in his lie.
Here are Yossi Berger and John Boyd.
More about them in part two.
It wasn't that difficult for Darrouzet to see precisely why Thiess had paid the $20,160 to the AWU.
Details of the payment were at the top of the list on Thiess's internal financial ledgers.
Cheque 45236 in answer to document 006 - ie invoice 006 for the Melbourne Water "consultancy" from the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
There was one more cheque for $20,160 that Thiess paid out. Only this second one wasn't banked until December 1995. Thiess didn't blink an eye-lid when that money was negotiated into a Wilson slush fund.
And there were two cheques made out to the AWU Workplace Reform Association way back in April/May 1992.
On 27 May 92 the last of those cheques was posted to the Thiess internal cost code for its new supplier, the "Australian Workers' Union - Workplace Reform Association Inc". It had its own Thiess vendor code - 98112 - but back on 27 May 1992 the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner had rejected the application to incorporate the Workplace Reform Association and things were looking a bit grim for people who'd opened bank accounts or paid out on invoices from that entity, so Thiess canned the internal cost centre and pretended it never existed.
But, as we so often say - every touch leaves its trace. Mr Darrouzet is touched not so much with traces as great smelly smearing of slush and cover-ups.
Much much more in Part Two.