Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s scandal-ridden agency iCare broke its own procurement rules to award at least $6 million of contracts to Korn Ferry, a recruitment firm closely linked to former NSW Liberal Party Minister and Party Treasurer Robert Webster.
Robert Webster was a senior Minister in the Greiner Government. He also served as the NSW Liberal Party's Finance Director in 2005. Until earlier this year, Korn Ferry listed Mr Webster as its Senior Client Partner & Head of Asia Pacific Board Services. Public records show that since 2015 Mr Webster has donated $61,345 to the Federal Liberal Party.
Mr Webster was responsible for recruiting the iCare Board Director that replaced NSW Treasury Secretary Michael Pratt’s after his resignation in 2017.
Korn Ferry is currently searching for three new directors to be appointed next year.
NSW Labor's Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business, Daniel Mookhey said iCare’s latest scandal was ’shocking:’
“It’s incredible that iCare would break their own rules to put the former Treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party in-charge of board recruitment,” Mr Mookhey said.
“It’s hard to believe Korn Ferry would have won this tender without their close connection to the Liberal Party.
“Worse - The Treasurer is letting a Liberal-aligned company pick iCare’s new directors despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over their own appointment."
Last month, NSW Labor exposed iCare for handing $18 million without tender to the IVE Group, another major party donor led by a former NSW Liberal Party President.
Public disclosures show that since 2014 the IVE Group has donated $151,004 to the Liberal Party. Mr Mookhey said:
“iCare has been secretly handing contracts to Liberal-aligned businesses like confetti. It stinks.
“No one can have confidence in iCare’s independence when it so entwined with senior Liberal Party figures and donors.”
iCare provides workers compensation insurance to more than 326,000 businesses. It insures 3.6 million employees. The agency’s investment portfolio is worth $38 billion. The Treasurer created iCare in 2015. It has only ever answered to him.
Under Dominic Perrottet's stewardship:
- iCare secretly paid a labour hire company $700,00 to hire a former US Republican Operative to work in Dominic Perotett’s personal office.
- iCare underpaid 52,000 workers up to $80 million.
- iCare in February tried to prematurely eject 17,500 workers from the workers compensation system to offset the scheme’s growing losses.
- iCare secretly tried to cut off payments to thousands of injured workers to make up for years of multi-billion losses in the state's workers compensation scheme.
- iCare sought to hike employer premiums by 4% and introduce a 'gap fee' for injured workers needing to see a doctor.
- iCare is under investigation for paying $22 million to insurance brokers in breach of the law.
- iCare’s CEO resigned after it emerged that iCare handed his wife a contract.
- iCare’s CEO and another top executive took an undisclosed sponsored trip to Las Vegas paid for by a multi-million contractor to the agency.
- iCare’s top executives took a 36 foreign trips in four years - ten times more than SIRA, their regulator.
- iCare faced an ICAC referral for handing an $11 million marketing contract to a company secretly owned by a top executive at the agency.
- Treasury in September 2019 secretly cancelled an external investigation into probity and governance at iCare after the former CEO complained.
- The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) made referrals about iCare to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for further investigation.
- A damning independent review found that in 46 percent of claims handled, iCare failed to follow the relevant law.
- iCare organised with the Treasury a secret $4 billion bailout of the workers compensation fund for police, nurses, prison guards and teachers to stop it from collapsing.
- The Treasurer was warned in May that iCare was set to lose another $850 million before COVID-19 hit the scheme even harder.
- iCare racked up underwriting losses totalling $4.54 billion in the past three years.
- iCare's $3.9 billion surplus effectively disappeared, before COVID-19 affected investment returns.
Despite this record Mr Perrotett told Parliament that iCare did a 'superb' job.
Mr Mookhey said:
"The Treasurer has his head-in-the-sand about the going-ons of his $38 billion agency.
“Sick and injured workers and employers have lost confidence in iCare. The Treasurer needs to go.”