Craig Izzard after appearing at the ICAC inquiry on Thursday. Photo: Peter RaeA former illegal dumping investigator told a corruption inquiry he was “surprised” to learn more than 200 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste had been dumped at a western Sydney property he was allegedly responsible for investigating.
Craig Izzard, a former rugby league player for the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels, endured a day of rigorous questioning at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Friday over his alleged involvement in “black market” dumping operations last year.
Mr Izzard maintained he had done nothing improper, as counsel assisting the commission James Mack guided him point-by-point through his employment code of conduct for the Western Sydney Regional Illegal Dumping Squad (RID).
“Is it your evidence that, while employed in the Western Sydney RID, you always acted honestly?” Mr Mack inquired
“I would say so, yes,” Mr Izzard replied.
Mr Izzard is the principal person of interest in four allegations of corrupt conduct, including three times last year when he allegedly solicited bribes from people in exchange for not investigating their dumping activity.
Among the allegations, Mr Izzard is accused of soliciting a bribe from Reuben Matthews in exchange for turning a blind eye to dumping at his property in Willowdene Avenue, Luddenham.
But Mr Izzard said he had no involvement in investigating the site, despite email evidence showing he was asked by Liverpool Council to investigate dumping complaints in November 2014.
He told the commission he had been “surprised” to learn that more than 200 tonnes of waste was later dumped at the site and tests revealed it was contaminated with asbestos.
Matthews was later convicted of dumping offences and fined $55,000. Another man, Nosir Kabite, was fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to transporting the waste to the property.
Earlier in the week, Mr Mack extracted an admission from Mr Kabite that he and Mr Izzard had an understanding that involved the exchange of “favours”.
After numerous recordings of phone calls between Mr Kabite and Mr Izzard were played before the inquiry, Mr Kabite admitted the pair used the code word “drinks” when discussing bribes.
“Mr Izzard frequently asked you for drinks, and by drinks he meant bribes, and it was your job to go out and get Mr Izzard a drink? Do you agree with me?” Mr Mack asked Mr Kabite.
“Yes,” he replied.
Mr Kabite said he gave Mr Izzard money on “two or three occasions”, and each payment was between $500 and $700.
However, Mr Izzard maintained the payments were in connection with an unrelated energy business he owned, whereby Mr Kabite would sell refrigeration units for him.
He also denied attempting to solicit a bribe from another man, Antonio Barillaro, in connection with alleged illegal dumping at a property in Badgerys Creek, telling the inquiry he’d never heard of someone by that name.
The commission also heard Mr Izzard regularly advised Mr Kabite over his council-related dilemmas, including one time when he suggested Mr Kabite’s nephew could attempt to avoid a dumping-related fine by pretending someone else was responsible.
When asked by assistant commissioner Reginald Blanch if he realised he was advising someone to pervert the course of justice, he replied: “I think it was, I probably didn’t [think] about it, Mr Commissioner.”
Mr Izzard will continue giving evidence to the inquiry on Monday.