'Stupid loyalty' roped uni IT manager's friend in corrupt conduct

A former friend and work colleague of Brett Roberts, Christopher Killalea has admitted that he was blinded by friendship, which pushed his willingness to assist Roberts in allegedly arranging fake invoices.

Christopher Killalea, a former friend and work colleague of Brett Roberts, the IT manager who is currently fronting the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in a public inquiry, gave evidence admitting that "stupid loyalty" saw him roped into allegedly issuing false invoices to Macquarie University between 2012 and 2013.

The ICAC is currently investigating allegations that Roberts obtained benefits by issuing false invoices to the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney, and Macquarie University while he held IT management positions at each of them between 2005 and 2013.

Prior to being reported to the ICAC about his possible corrupt conduct, Roberts was the IT manager at Macquarie University. His contract was subsequently terminated in December 2013, after a misconduct investigation committee found that Roberts was involved in corrupt conduct.

Roberts allegedly made out several invoices under the name of Management & Professional Services Pty Ltd (MAPS) -- a company owned and controlled by Killalea -- with a majority addressed to himself and approved by him.

Taking the stand as a witness on day two of the public inquiry, Killalea said his involvement in the alleged fraudulent incidents involving Macquarie University and his willingness to assist Roberts despite realising what was happening was due to "blind friendship".

Evidence of Killalea's trust for Roberts was highlighted when he admitted that at one point, he appointed Roberts as the sole trustee of his superannuation fund. Additionally, Killalea added that Roberts would often reside at his home, and had unrestricted access to all parts of it, including his computer.

"Unfortunately, I only had one computer password all that time, and very cleverly I had all my passwords to everything on my computer titled 'passwords'," said Killalea.

Killalea admitted that he participated in a number of fraudulent service agreements, fabrication of false emails, and the issue of a false invoice to iPath valued at AU$10,450 for a storage consolidation project that never happened.

Roberts allegedly requested iPath, a company that designs and builds Wi-Fi networks and is owned and controlled by Roberts' former colleague Emiel Temmerman, to create an invoice for work that he had supposedly undertaken by MAPS for Macquarie University.

According to ICAC, MAPS was apparently unable to invoice the university directly, because it was not an accredited supplier to the university and therefore could not get paid at the time.

ICAC alleged that in the end, a total of AU$42,900 was paid by Macquarie University to Roberts for the supposed work he had carried out.

Killalea also said that the alleged wrongdoing by Roberts became apparent to him in late 2013, when he learned that the work Roberts had promised he would carry out, which was to collect data and performance requirements at Macquarie University, was not occurring.

"It became apparent that this whole piece of work I thought I was doing wasn't in fact a piece of work being performed by me, or Mr Roberts, but it was being performed by Mr Roberts' components internally and by EMC. It was talking with EMC that I realised what was happening, and that's when I terminated the relationship," he said.

After realising his involvement, Killalea eventually returned the one payment of AU$29,500 to Macquarie University that was made to MAPS by the university during the period.