Union boss Darren Greenfield allegedly received four $5000 bribes at meetings that were caught on camera, texted about in WeChat messages and spoken about in tapped phone calls, a court has heard.
The powerful secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and his son Michael, a former NRL player, watched on from a cramped booth at Surry Hills police station on Friday afternoon as they were granted bail over corruption charges in the NSW Local Court.
The senior Greenfield, 56, was charged on Friday morning with four counts of receiving or soliciting a corrupting benefit.
It is alleged he met with the director of a construction company and received a $5000 bribe on four occasions, prosecutor Rebecca Ogden said.
The director, who has pleaded guilty to related charges, is expected to give evidence to this effect and WeChat messages, phone calls and surveillance footage either show the bribes being handed over or confirm they were, the court heard.
Michael Greenfield, the 36-year-old assistant secretary of the NSW CFMEU, is facing two counts of the same charge and one count of making a false declaration in relation to a driving offence.
Ms Ogden told the magistrate the charges were “serious” and the Fair Work Act had been amended specifically to stamp out these types of “corrupt and secret payments between employers and trade unions”.
The amount of money that changed hands was not so significant as the breach of trust involved given the senior positions of the two men, she said.
She argued the Greenfields should remain in custody as there was an unacceptable risk they would interfere with witnesses and evidence if released on bail.
Ms Ogden read out multiple expletive-ridden comments allegedly made by Darren Greenfield that she said showed he engaged in a “threatening and coercive” manner towards people in the industry.
In one conversation, he assured the director he would be awarded work, the court heard.
“If I say to you that I’ll talk to Parkview (construction company) about this one to make sure you get the job, make sure you don’t talk to other gyprockers … you know what I mean, they say ‘oh f..k that’,” Ms Ogden read out.
In other comments, Mr Greenfield allegedly said: “Tony is a bullshitter. If you don’t stand on him and make sure, you know what I mean …. you keep telling him.
“If he wants a relationship with us he can just stick to what we f..king agree to.”
The prosecutor said Michael Greenfield had the same predilection for threatening and coercive conduct, laid out in a Federal Court judgment relating to a 2019 picket that is under appeal.
Magistrate Margaret Quin described the findings as “very damning” against the younger Greenfield on Friday.
But the father and son’s barrister Grant Brady urged the magistrate to “proceed with caution” and the Federal Court matter in fact showed Michael Greenfield would abide by court processes.
Mr Brady suggested “threatening and coercive” was an overstatement, and said any concerns could be dealt with by strict bail conditions.
“It’s one thing to talk in a firm way about people and whether they stick to their agreements,” Mr Brady said.
“It’s another thing entirely to infer from that he was going to use coercive behaviour if they didn’t stick to their agreement.
“And it’s a further leap to say your honour could come to the conclusion he is likely to interfere with witnesses, such that it becomes an unacceptable risk.”
Mr Brady pointed to the pair’s limited criminal history, and family and community ties to argue they should be released.
The barrister conceded the corruption offences, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, were serious, but said “it’s not a large sum of money in the scheme of things”.
Magistrate Quinn granted bail, ordering the men to report to police once a day and abide by a curfew between 9.30pm and 5am, among other conditions.
She said in her view the men would likely receive a custodial sentence if convicted and warned the Greenfields any breaches would mean “you will not get bail again”.
“And could I just say I have no intention of breaching any of the court orders and thank you,” Darren Greenfield replied.
The arrests come after the Greenfields’ homes and CFMEU’s Pyrmont headquarters were raided by police last year.
The men will return to court on November 16.