A formwork company owner has been grilled over who he spoke to about giving money to a Canberra construction union official in exchange for work.
Elias Taleb of Class 1 Form faced cross-examination at the royal commission on Monday.
He had previously told a hearing on July 13 he hadn’t discussed making cash payments to CFMEU organiser Halafihi “Fihi” Kivalu with anyone else.
But on Monday he admitted to the union’s legal team he informed another organiser John Lomax that he was paying Mr Kivalu money.
Both Mr Kivalu and Mr Lomax have been arrested and charged over alleged blackmail claims since the commission began three weeks of ACT hearings.
The union’s lawyer John Agius asked if Mr Taleb ever told Mr Lomax about the payments.
On July 13 Mr Taleb said the pair “never really spoke about that kind of stuff”, but on Monday he admitted they had discussed it once when Mr Lomax came to collect a cheque for three union memberships.
“I was complaining to him this is not fair to not get any job unless we pay some money,” he said.
Mr Taleb didn’t tell him how much was paid or for which jobs.
Mr Agius put it to him that one of the reasons he didn’t go to the CFMEU about Mr Kivalu’s payments was because he knew they weren’t being passed on to the union.
“I never knew who was getting money out of who or what’s going on,” Mr Taleb replied.
Mr Taleb also detailed how he made recordings of almost all of his conversations with union officials, because he didn’t trust them.
“They always tell me things and they lie about it,” he said.
But he said he was unable to find the tape recorder on which he alleged Mr Lomax told him what other companies had been paying CFMEU branch secretary Dean Hall.
Earlier on Monday the hearing was told negotiations with construction unions in Canberra take place with a so called “gun” in the back of the room.
The Master Builders Association ACT branch legal counsel told the commission dealings with the CFMEU and CEPU over enterprise bargaining agreements are extraordinarily difficult.
“There’s always a `gun’ in the back of the room which is the threat of disruption to people’s sites and livelihood if people don’t agree to get inside the loop and enter into the EBA,” John Nikolic said during re-examination.