EXCLUSIVE: A coterie of senior Optus executives have been publicly sucking up to the allegedly corrupt former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for months with the hope it seems of being able to swindle some more influence amongst decision makers and power-brokers across Australia.
The move by the giant telco meanwhile to go against its own published company code of ethics and give the morally dubious former politician a highly-paid, made-up job just for her while still under investigation by the ICAC has led to angered employees and customers deciding to leave the business. Serkan Ozturk reports.
It’s a case of Optus saying ‘yes’ while the rest of Australia says no to Gladys Berejiklian, including the giant telco’s own employees and customers.
Early last month, the telecommunications company operated by the Singapore Government owned Singtel announced the bold move to install and fast-track Berejiklian to its executive team.
To do so, they created a wholly new job just for her. How very special.
Berejiklian’s fancy new title for her made-up position at the telco will be “Managing Director, Enterprise, Business and Institutional”.
Upon the appointment on February 11, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin came out to lavish praise upon the former politician who happens to be in dire straits with her questionable decision-making and credible links to corruption in the form of her “secret boyfriend” Daryl Maguire up for public viewing for months thanks to a long-running, (and just as importantly) continuing ICAC inquiry.
That whiff of impropriety, or the alleged enabling of corruption, however seems to be no obstacle for Optus.
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“Gladys is a proven leader who demonstrated her renowned strength, leadership, discipline, and composure in successfully guiding Australia’s largest state through one of the biggest challenges in its history while earning the support and gratitude of the community for her tireless contribution,” Ms Rosmarin trumpeted.
“She also builds and fosters loyal and dedicated teams who really go above and beyond for her.”
The decision by Optus to give Berejiklian an exec role with the telco while still under investigation by the ICAC for links to alleged corruption was met by barely a shrug from a compliant media almost wholly devoted to covering up for their Liberal Party friends.
The lack of questioning from the media about Berejiklian’s new role with Optus was somewhat bemusing though.
And that’s simply because the company’s decision to hire the allegedly corrupt former politician goes against its own publicly stated guidelines and directives.
The telco’s own published ethical standards state that the company won’t work with anybody where allegations of corruption may exist or seem credible.
Hiring someone who may not “adhere to the highest standard of moral and ethical conduct” and may also “engage in any form of corrupt practices” seems to be no issue when it came to the decision to hire Berejiklian though.
Customers are however said to be aghast. Many of whom have publicly voiced out their concerns over social media. Some are even now leaving the telco.
“I’ll be leaving as soon as my contract ends,” one woman confirmed to True Crime News Weekly.
Others said the only thing keeping them with Optus following the announcement of Berejiklian’s new job was the telco having the rights to the English Premier League (EPL).
“I would be leaving tomorrow if it weren’t for the EPL,” one man, a sports fan, said.
The announcement last month by Optus to give Berejiklian a cushy job came as True Crime News Weekly published an exclusive in-depth investigation into further allegations of impropriety and corruption concerning the former state premier and her links to questionable Armenian charity groups which are seemingly operated by her own electorate officer and seem to provide no real charitable works.
In more trouble for Berejiklian, a fortnight ago, one of her most trusted political advisers was in court at Sydney’s Downing Centre where his criminal trial commenced for the alleged rape of two children under the age of 10 over a period of two years. The man, whose name is currently suppressed, also happened to be given a made-up job – on this occasion with the state government organisation Transport for NSW – just months before police eventually laid charges following a five-year investigation.
OPTUS GAME OF MATES REVEALED
Senior employees within Optus meanwhile are also said to be disgusted by Berejiklian’s appointment.
One employee who contacted True Crime News Weekly said the announcement had caused a widespread plunge in morale amongst everyday workers at the company.
“From what I’ve seen and heard, most vocal staff do not agree with the appointment or are shocked, with those who support her being in the minority,” the employee said.
“Many of my friends who’ve worked here for five-plus years are talking about leaving. Why couldn’t they have waited until after the investigation? Why bring politics into the workplace? To ‘win’ contracts and business probably.”
The employee then added: “And I’m considering leaving.”
In a claim that will gain some interest, the senior employee revealed to True Crime News Weekly that Berejiklian’s appointment was apparently linked to her relationships with several Optus “leaders and execs in the ‘Sydney bubble'”.
Several Optus execs had even been paying public tribute to Berejiklian late last year following her decision to suddenly resign as NSW premier in early October 2021 in the face of the ICAC inquiry into her political behaviour.
A LinkedIn post from Optus’s chief marketing officer, Melissa Hopkins, at the time of Berejiklian’s resignation, is quite telling in hindsight.
“It is rare I have been moved by a politician so much as I have by Gladys Berejiklian. She led always from the front, with bags of integrity but more so authenticity,” Ms Hopkins gushed in a post on LinkedIn with a painting of of Berejiklian attached to it.
“I am personally heartbroken.”
“Heartbroken”: The reaction from one senior Optus executive to Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to resign as NSW premier late last year as ICAC announced a corruption inquiry into her political activities over a number of years (Image: LinkedIn / Supplied)
The LinkedIn post resonated with Ms Hopkins’s fellow executive team at Optus, with the post receiving a ‘love’ reaction from Francis Martin, the telco’s vice president of operations and enablement, as well as Noleesha Hunt, the company’s director for transmission and fixed deployment, who ‘cared’ with Ms Martin’s ‘love’ reaction.
The public love-in then continued in February following the decision to appoint Berejiklian.
This time, it was Optus’ head of data platforms and data management, Matt McKenzie, who couldn’t help but share their “excitement” that Berejiklian had been given a made-up executive position with the company.
“I am always so proud to work at Optus with such an amazing team and today I am beaming with excitement that Gladys Berejiklian has joined our fantastic company! Welcome Gladys!” McKenzie posted on LinkedIn in early February 2022.
“Excitement”: Optus’s senior executive team can barely hide their joy despite the telco’s own company Code of Conduct forbidding work relationships with people who may be engaged in corruption (Image: LinkedIn / Supplied)
Again, the post was well supported by those high up the Optus hierarchy.
People who liked McKenzie’s post and perhaps shared in his “excitement” included the company’s CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, as well as Andrew Sheridan, the telco’s vice president of regulatory and public affairs.
It seems in their rush of “excitement” to welcome Berejiklian that senior members of the telco’s executive team have confirmed that the Optus Code of Conduct may not be worth the paper it has been printed on.
True Crime News Weekly contacted Optus for this story, where we asked how the giant telco could explain or square up its hiring of Berejiklian when it was put side-by-side with the company’s own published Code of Conduct.
We did not receive a response.
When asked whether it was a “hypocritical and unethical organisation”, Optus also chose not to provide a response to defend itself or its employees.