Sydney council blackmail alleged at ICAC

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Two Sydney citizens dismissed a local official to hire an unqualified planner in a senior developmental assessment position so that they could affect him. NSW's corruption watchdog has been told.

Michael Hawatt and Pierre Azzi, former councilors of the now-abandoned Canterbury City Council, pressed General Manager Jim Montague to hire Spiro Stavis in early 2015, said the Independent Commission on Corruption on Monday.

Counsel, assisting the Commission, David Buchanan SC, said the interview process was flawless with Mr Stavis being provided with a copy of the interview questions and then elected to work despite the identification of better candidates.

An independent recruitment specialist warned Montague to hire Mr. Stavis, who lacked management experience, would be surprising and "fly in favor of profit selection process."

Mr. Buchanan said it was recommended that Mr. Stavis not even be shortlist ed, but he reviewed it for the interview after the lobby of Mr. Hawatt and Mr. Azzi.

The two councilors were "rude and aggressive" for other candidates during the interview process, allegedly.

While councilors were not usually involved in the recruitment process, Mr. Montague included the couple on the panel and told the recruitment specialist: "I thought I would try something different this time."

Stavis smsede Mr. Hawatt in December 2014 and said, "I know years on my side but pls I need this job."

Mr Montage's job was threatened by councilors, heard ICAC, with the couple warn general manager "fix this or you can go".

ICAC also examines a series of dodgy development application approvals by Stavis after his dubious employment and the role of the two councilors played in his decision making.

Buchanan said that it was expected that Stavis would give evidence of the investigation claiming the two councilors "had the pow to make him very uncomfortable."

He was instructed by Montague that if an application was 50-50 , he should "move toward the positive".

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