On 4 July 2016, Manase was found guilty of one count of intentionally giving false or misleading evidence before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
The 30-year-old Manase was a formwork labourer employed by Class 1 Form in Queanbeyan NSW, a company that had traditionally subcontracted labour for the formwork industry. In 2011, Mr Taleb, in his capacity as the company’s director, begun tendering for formwork jobs. Mr Manase was an employee in this company.
In March or April 2012, Taleb met with a representative of the Constructions Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Halafihi Kivalu, who told him that because he was new in town it would be difficult for him to secure work. As a result, Kivalu told him he would need to pay people off.
Kivalu made it clear to Taleb that if he didn’t pay him $50,000 to secure a job he had tendered for in Canberra, one of his competitors would, and the work would go to them.
Taleb agreed to pay Kivalu $50,000 and successfully won the tender for that contract. Both agreed Taleb would pay in instalments as he could not afford to pay the lump sum.
Between June 2012 and November 2013, Taleb secured a number of other contracts by agreeing to pay Kivalu money.
In February 2015, Taleb spoke to members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) working with the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, about his experience within the formwork sector and construction industry in the ACT. During the meeting, Taleb disclosed agreeing to pay money to Kivalu in order to win work. Not long after, the AFP launched an investigation into these business dealings.
During the investigation, a warrant was issued that allowed the AFP to intercept calls and monitor text messages Kivalu was making on a mobile phone. On 10 April 2015, the AFP intercepted two conversations along with text messages, where Kivalu spoke to Taleb explicitly about the amount of money Taleb owed for contracts.
On the same day, Manase spoke to Taleb at a construction site and told him he had seen a file that alleged Taleb owed $80,000 to someone. When Taleb asked whom he supposedly owed money to, Manase replied that it was possibly Kivalu.
Also in April 2015, Manase had a conversation with a work colleague where he said he “… had a piece of paper that says [Taleb] owes a lot of money”. On 8 May 2015, Manase met with Taleb and handed him a piece of paper and said, “This is the paper I’ve been telling you about. I’m just the messenger.”
The piece of paper listed a number of construction projects and payments made towards them. It alleged an outstanding debt of $80,000 with an additional $20,000 interest.
On 14 July 2015, Manase gave sworn evidence at the Royal Commission that he had never seen the piece of paper, nor given it to Taleb. The Commissioner warned Manase it was an offence to give false evidence. Manase did not recant his evidence.
Manase was arrested on 29 July 2015 and charged with one count of intentionally giving false or misleading evidence before a Royal Commission contrary to s 6H(1) of the Royal Commission Act 1902. He entered a plea of not guilty and the matter was set down for a three-day hearing.
At the start of the three-day hearing, listed for 4 July 2016, Manase entered a guilty plea.
Charge / Sentence
Manase was convicted and sentenced after a guilty plea on 4 July 2016 in relation to:
One count of intentionally giving false or misleading evidence before a Royal Commission contrary to s 6H(1) of the Royal Commission Act 1902.
He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, with the last three months to be suspended after entering into a recognisance of $1000, to be of good behaviour for 12 months.