NSW councils at centre of corruption scandal

BEACH holidays, football tickets, iPhones and gift vouchers were among more than $116,000 worth of gifts used to "groom" NSW public officials for corruption, an inquiry has heard.

The gifts, given to officials from 88 councils and 22 other state institutions, form part of a $1.5 million corruption scandal alleged by the state's Independent Commission Against Corruption in one of its largest investigations to date.

In his opening statement, counsel assisting ICAC commissioner David Ipp, Steve Campbell, said the wrongdoing uncovered was so pervasive the commission could not be satisfied it had done more than “identify the tip of an iceberg”.

The gifts were allegedly given by a small number of companies as “kickbacks” to encourage the placement of more or bigger orders.

“The public official, often on a modest income, appreciates the benefit and obliges, placing further orders whether the goods are required by his employer or not; whether the price is fair or not; and eventually whether all of the goods, or even any of them are delivered, or not,” Mr Campbell said.

In one case an official from Bathurst Regional Council allegedly processed invoices for over 400km of road safety mesh - enough to line the Great Western Highway between Bathurst and Sydney and back.

Another official from Yass Valley Council allegedly obtained 4000 highway guide posts - enough to line the Hume Highway between Yass and Sydney three times over, the inquiry was told.