Perth shipbuilder Austal has sensationally ‘updated’ its own stockmarket statement and now acknowledges that an inquiry is underway ‘with respect to payment of an outstanding milestone payment/s by Australian Border Force for the Cape Class programme in 2015’.
The company had earlier strongly refuted claims made in the media that an investigation into $39 million in payments was underway.
At the time Austal CEO David Singleton told investors: “Austal notes the investigation has been discontinued.”
The company update said it had relied upon a media article to make this claim.
“Austal has been advised by the journalist that the investigations are ongoing, but in a different form.”
In the Senate yesterday, Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity Jaala Hinchcliffe described a corruption investigation into the multimillion-dollar milestone payments approved by the ABF to Austal as serious and ongoing.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick asked: “The boats were not fit for purpose and Border Force did not want to make the payment. “Are you aware of the facts I just put to you?”
Ms Hinchcliffe replied: “If you are asking me – is this a serious matter? Or a serious investigation? Then the answer is yes.”
The Cape Class are a class of 10 large patrol boats built by Austal to replace Customs’ Bay-class patrol boats, and entered service from 2013 onwards.
Austal said in its update that it had had no contact with the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity and had no first-hand knowledge of any investigation, its status or the substance or detail of any allegations that have been made.
Picture: Austal/Cape Class patrol boat
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