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Public servants targeted by bikies

November 29, 2009

OUTLAW motorcycle gangs regularly target public servants, threatening and bribing them to assist in illegal activities, police say.

The claims come amid revelations Transport Department staff accepted bribes from outlaw motorcycle gangs and “hoon” car enthusiasts.

An eight-month police inquiry uncovered 144 bribery and corruption offences involving 32 people in the Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure’s customer service area, , including five DTEI employees.

Assistant Commissioner Tony Harrison said public servants were often targeted by organised crime.

“Serious organised crime always looks for opportunities to infiltrate government,” he said.

Mr Harrison said violence was used in conjunction with bribes to coerce public officers.

“(Outlaw motorcycle gang members) regularly threaten people,” he said.

An increasing number of public employees were targeted by organised crime, police said.

During the most recent operations, officials were targeted by outlaw motorcycle gangs and “hoon drivers” from car clubs.

Police uncovered two organised corruption rings taking bribes of between $50 and $1000 to manipulate the DTEI computer system, removing defects and wrecked status on cars and altering driver licence records so people could obtain licences for which they were not qualified.

Owners of defected cars were approached through websites, car clubs and race meetings at Mallala. All cars illegally cleared were re-defected by police.

Opposition Justice spokeswoman Vicki Chapman said she was pleased with the outcome of the investigation, but questioned the extent of corruption within the public service.

Ms Chapman accused the Government of covering up the corruption claims, which police began investigating in April.

She said Transport Minister Patrick Conlon told Parliament in June that there were “no issues” with the DTEI computer system implicated in the allegations in June – two months after the investigation began.

“The Government must have known what was going on and if they didn’t that’s just an amazing level of incompetence,” she said.

Ms Chapman called for the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption in SA – a move quickly ruled out by Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who said the recent arrests proved existing agencies were functioning well.

“This successful investigation by the Anti-Corruption Branch confirms my belief that SA is already more than adequately served by existing organisations primed to root out corruption,” he said.

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