Leighton Holdings, building the Sapphire to Woolgoolga Pacific Hwy upgrade is at the centre of a corruption probe.
Leighton Holdings, building the Sapphire to Woolgoolga Pacific Hwy upgrade is at the centre of a corruption probe. Trevor Veale

Pacific Hwy contractors at centre of corruption probe

THE force behind some of Coffs Harbour's most critical infrastructure and projects is grappling with allegations of corruption and bribery, following explosive allegations it illegally secured business with Iraq through kickbacks.

In a statement following the publishing of the revelations in Fairfax Media, Leighton Holdings said it was "not aware of any new allegations" or breaches of ethics.

The claims - understood to be backed up by thousands of pages of paperwork - centre on Leighton Holdings' former chief executive Wal King and managing director David Savage.

The pair allegedly knew that a $42million payment was made to a firm linked to Iraqi officials who later chose Leighton to build a $750million pipeline.

Mr King is also accused of suggesting another $23million be spent in an effort to secure a further $500million worth of work.

Leighton's domestic arms including Leightons Contractors, John Holland and Thiess are involved in developing key projects in Queensland including the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital, Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal and in New South Wales, the Sapphire-to-Woolgoolga Pacific Highway upgrade north of Coffs Harbour.

Leighton Holdings said its 61,000 staff and 400 current projects were of the "highest ethical and professional standards".

In relation to accusations about illicit dealings with Iraq, Leighton reported the potential crime to the Australian Federal Police in 2011.

It also defended the behaviour of directors and said it had improved the way it governed and dealt with risks.

"Leighton continues to cooperate with the AFP while the AFP undertakes its investigation," it said in the statement.

"As this is subject to Federal Police investigation, Leighton does not intend to make any further comment."
 



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