RMS heavy vehicle assessor corrupt, ICAC finds

By: Brad Gardner


Commission recommends changes to heavy vehicle assessment practices in New South Wales

RMS heavy vehicle assessor corrupt, ICAC finds
Christopher Binos charged around $1,500 to falsely certify the logbooks of learner drivers.

A New South Wales driver assessor who helped people fraudulently gain truck driving licences has been found to have acted corruptly, sparking calls for changes to how driving tests are run.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found Christopher Binos, who was a Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) accredited heavy vehicle assessor, doctored learner drivers’ logbooks in return for money.

ICAC held a corruption hearing in October last year on the matter. In its report handed down today it found Binos certified at least 95 people between June 2012 and April 2013 as competent even though they never underwent any driving tests.

People paid Binos around $1,500 to certify them and then presented their fraudulent logbooks to the RMS to gain their heavy vehicle licences.

"Mr Binos admitted to the Commission that, on a number of occasions, he accepted money from applicants for heavy vehicle driver licences to make false entries in the learners’ logbooks…He agreed that his conduct was dishonest," ICAC’s report says.

The commission has sought advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about prosecuting Binos for his actions, along with five other people who admitted during the October hearing they paid Binos to secure false logbook entries.

Citing flaws in the RMS’ assessment practices, ICAC has recommended the department require training organisations to fit in-cabin video cameras and GPS trackers to record and monitor final competency assessments (FCA).

It wants the RMS to implement systems to own, collect, review and archive the recordings to strengthen the auditing practices of driving tests.

"With regard to NSW, this technology has the potential to significantly improve the control that the RMS exerts over FCAs and provides a strong level of assurance that FCAs are properly performed," the report states. 

"Video records of FCAs also reduce the time required for each audit, increase auditor productivity compared to standard field audits, and provide a strong deterrence to corruption by increasing the perceived risk of detection."

The RMS has been given until at least three months to inform ICAC if it will implement the recommendation.

"In the event a plan of action is prepared, the RMS is required to provide a written report to the Commission of its progress in implementing the plan 12 months after informing the Commission of the plan," the report says.

"If the plan has not been fully implemented by then, a further written report must be provided 12 months after the first report."

Binos’ actions were exposed when an aspiring truck driver, Simon Hay, alerted the RMS after the assessor offered to falsely assess him in return for $2,000.

ICAC commended Hay for reporting the matter, saying it led directly to Binos being investigated and allowed the RMS to cancel the licences of those who were falsely certified.

"Those people identified as likely to have been falsely certified by Mr Binos, who were not called to give evidence at the public inquiry, will be referred to the NSW Police Force to consider whether any criminal charges should be laid," ICAC says.

Binos was suspended from conducting assessments in April 2013 and had his driving instructor licence cancelled in June 2013.

Alexander Daubney, Mark McDonagh, Peter Friend-Ngui, Shane Florio and Jacqueline Riley were the five drivers who gave evidence at the inquiry. They all admitted they knew they submitted logbooks to the RMS that contained false entries.

Riley paid between $1,500 and $1,600 to Binos for the entries, Friend-Ngui admitted to paying $1,700, Florio told ICAC he paid $1,500, McDonagh handed over $1,800 and Daubney was charged $1,000 to $1,500.

Heavy vehicle licence applicants are required to complete competency tests that cover speed, managing curves and bends, maintaining safe gaps between vehicles, braking and driving on open highways.

"The applicant is meant to be tested against these competencies to demonstrate the ability to perform each competency under specified conditions," ICAC says.

If they pass the competencies, they are then required to undergo a final 30-minute driving assessment before being given their licence.

 

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