Australian firm caught in US bribe scandal
(Cincinnati judge orders all speed cameras confiscated, manufacturer held in contempt -‐ “In a recent court hearing, Judge Robert Ruehlman ordered them not only to be shut off but to be impounded -‐ taken off the streets for good. The ruling comes as a result of a contentious legal battle over the speed cameras. Both sides of the case were back before Ruehlman during a contempt hearing June 27, “where the judge ruled that Elmwood Place and the speed camera contractor Optotraffic were in contempt of court,” WLWT reported.
Contempt of court Ruehlman found in March that the speed cameras were unconstitutional, essentially then ordering them shut down, along with the speed ticket program. He also ruled that outstanding tickets issued as a result of the system did not have to be paid.”. Admin)
THE US arm of Australian red light camera operator Redflex Holdings Group is embroiled in a corruption scandal in Chicago, with a former city official facing a 10-year prison sentence after allegedly being lavished with cash, a condominium, hotel stays and golf games.
US government prosecutors allege John Bills, the former managing deputy commissioner of Chicago’s transportation department, pocketed benefits totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars to steer $US124 million ($A134.16 million) in city contracts to Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.
Prosecutors declined to say if current or former Redflex employees will be charged when the probe is completed. However, the company is not accused of any wrongdoing.
“The investigation is continuing, but I can’t be specific as to who or what that may involve,” Randall Samborn, spokesperson for the US Attorney for the northern district of Illinois, told AAP on Thursday.
Redflex’s global headquarters is in Melbourne.
The indictment against Bills, a 52-year-old Chicago resident and 32-year City of Chicago employee, alleges he used his influence to help Redflex win contracts.
Prosecutors have granted immunity to a former Redflex employee, codenamed “CS1″, who allegedly worked closely with Bills.
CS1 and others at Redflex allegedly paid for at least $US23,000 worth of hotels, car rentals, meals, golf games and other personal items for Bills.
“According to individuals at Redflex, the Chicago contract was the most important contract for the company, both because of the revenues it generated as well as the name recognition it gave to Redflex,” the criminal complaint reads.
“By 2010, the Chicago red light program was the largest red light camera program in the United States and encompassed 20 per cent of the total camera systems that Redflex operated in the US.”
Another key figure in the investigation is a friend of Bills, named in court papers as Individual A.
On Bills’ suggestion, Individual A was hired by Redflex as its “Chicago customer liaison” and paid more than $US2 million in salary, bonuses and commissions, according to prosecutors.
CS1 told investigators he and his superiors “had explicit conversations about Individual A serving as a conduit to get money to Bills in return for Bills’ help in getting Redflex the City of Chicago contract, and for Bills’ help in ensuring that Redflex’s contract would potentially be expanded and renewed in the future”.
Individual A, between 2006 to 2011, withdrew more than $US643,000 in cash and prosecutors allege Bills and his wife made major cash bank deposits or purchases, including paying for a Mercedes-Benz convertible, a boat and at least 35 trips.
Prosecutors also allege Bills paid his divorce lawyer in cash and used $US16,000 in money orders to pay his girlfriend’s mortgage.
When Bills retired in 2011, he allegedly “made it known” to CS1 and other Redflex employees he wanted a job with Redflex.
Redflex allegedly arranged for Bills to get a job with a company funded by Redflex.
Once the company hired Bills, Redflex allegedly increased its monthly contribution to the company to help pay Bills’ salary.
Bills was arrested on a federal bribery charge in Chicago on Wednesday.
His lawyer, Nishay Sanan, denied Bills had taken bribes and claimed Redflex was trying to make Bills the scapegoat.
Redflex, in a statement, said it had “fully co-operated with the authorities” and after an internal investigation “announced new leadership, new policies and a line between our past and today’s Redflex”.