National

Two contractors to face court over $5 million Fremantle Port rort

Two contractors to face court over $5 million Fremantle Port rort

Two more people have been charged following a police investigation into the $5 million Fremantle Ports corruption scandal, centred around former employee Giacomo “Jack” Merolla and his family.

Two male contactors, who previously worked for the port, have been accused of working with Mr Merolla to engage in corrupt practices.

It’s alleged a 44-year-old owner of an electrical services business and a 36-year-old owner of a marine services business would add an extra margin to invoices for work at the port, which would then signed off by Mr Merolla.

Police say the contractors would then extract their fees and deposit the remainder of the money into Mr Merolla’s account.

It’s alleged each contractor received $3700 for work that was not completed, while just over $69,000 was deposited into accounts owned by Mr Merolla.

The 44-year-old Southern River man has been charged with 33 counts of public officer acts corruptly in performance/discharge of functions and will face Armadale Magistrate’s Court today.

The 36-year-old Edgewater man has been charged with 13 counts of the same offence and will face Joondalup Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Arrest warrants remain in place for Mr Merolla and his wife Daniela, both aged 54, who are still at large overseas.

Financial Crimes Squad detectives issued the warrants in June, as part of a major and ongoing investigation into alleged corruption practices at the port dating back to 2014.

Police say Mr Merolla, who was responsible for navigational aids and lighthouses, in the process of securing goods and services for the port, funnelled transactions through several shelf companies, skimming a profit for himself.

The couple’s two children — Paolo Vincenzo Merolla, 23, and Tiziana Merolla, 28 — have both pleaded not guilty to property laundering charges and will appear in court again on November 17.

While the exact figure related to the fraudulent activity is still being assessed, more than $5 million has been transferred to overseas bank accounts controlled by shelf companies created by Mr Morella.