And Raw Recruitment also has close ties to the politically influential Victorian branch of the plumbers’ union. The union owns the Brunswick property used by Raw Recruitment to run its Victorian operations and the company is a major sponsor of plumbing industry awards nights.
The company helped build its public profile through its connection to former Indigenous stars of the AFL. Essendon’s Michael Long is a director of Raw Recruitment and Services Pty Ltd, while former Geelong goal sneak Ronnie Burns was employed as a mentor. There is no suggestion Mr Long or Mr Burns have engaged in or were aware of any improper activity.
It has also received tens of thousands of dollars in Indigenous wage subsidies from the federal government in recent years.
But last year the state Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – the department responsible for security contracts at Victoria’s quarantine hotels – suspended its relationship with the company after irregularities were allegedly discovered in Raw Recruitment’s filings.
Sources familiar with its operations said the concerns related to jobs placements allegedly being overstated and, in some cases, given to people living interstate. Other allegations involve back dating documents and doubts over the Indigenous heritage of some people the company put into work.
The department did not respond to specific questions and instead released a short statement to The Age saying, “DJPR suspended a contractual arrangement with Raw more than a year ago and has referred matters regarding the company to Victoria Police.” Victoria Police confirmed it had received the referral in April and said the matter was still being assessed by the fraud and extortion squad.
Raw Recruitment’s managing director, Allan Jones, declined to answer specific questions but denied the company’s contract with the Victorian government had been adversely affected.
“I can confirm we have an open and current contract with the Victorian state government and [are] working through an audit process,” Mr Jones said.
In an unrelated incident last year, police twice raided an East Keilor premises used by Raw Recruitment as part of a probe into a stolen-car racket. A Raw Recruitment employee, Anthony Velluto, was a person of interest for Victoria Police’s vehicle crime squad. Closed circuit television showed him escaping a police raid in November via a window on the top floor of the East Keilor factory. The footage showed him throwing his small dog out the window onto a lower roof before climbing out himself.
Mr Velluto was arrested near the Victoria-NSW border on January 3 after being found asleep inside a still-running Mitsubishi Lancer which had been reported stolen. Inside the car with him were several sets of stolen licence plates and 20 millilitres of the illegal drug GHB.
Mr Velluto was on bail and serving a community corrections order at the time of his arrest. Supreme Court judge Andrew Tinney rejected a bail application from Mr Velluto due to his extensive criminal history and risk of re-offending. He is yet to face trial on the new charges.
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