Insider reports indicate that there is additional information that was considered by Cairns (un)Regional Council staff that has affected the award of contracts to local vendors - not just for the Tobruk Pool, but across the board for all local contractors bidding on construction, goods, and services.
The information has come from reports of what has been described as a "widespread contractor fraud" involving a manager or managers at Cairns Central, employees of Lend Lease. Lend Lease has been offered the opportunity to comment and they've said "we can't discuss personnel issues".
This issue apparently involves contractors and suppliers to Lend Lease being required to make under-the-table payments to one or more Lend Lease employees at the centre.
One of the contractors in the firing line has commented publicly that "all of the big guys in Cairns are paying kickbacks to many of big companies in Cairns, including building contractors".
At the same time these reports were coming out, Lend Lease sacked operations manager Sergio Carlesso, an operations manager who was previously employed by the Dexus Property Group, owners of Smithfield Centre. Lend Lease has refused to confirm if this or other employees were involved in such a scheme.
Insiders have named both local companies as well as national companies with service locations in Cairns as part of the kickback scheme. Two companies that have been mentioned and had comment sought include Pickers Vinyl and Canvas, along with Schneider Electric. Pickers has refused any comment on it, however Schneider Electric (which maintains escalators and elevators, among other services), has responded that "Schneider Electric are not aware of any official allegations, and therefore won't be making a comment".
As word of this alleged scheme has flowed through Council, there has been concern raised by some that these types of schemes are widespread in North Queensland and therefore corrupt the entire process - another factor that has given the 'tip' to the larger suppliers and contractors from down south.