The former director of an SA based transport company has been convicted and fined in a South Australian court after using weed killer to destroy thousands of driver records.
Following a lengthy investigation by South Australia Police, Anatasios Babaniotis, 51, appeared in the Berri Magistrates Court in the Riverland earlier this month.
This comes after pleading guilty to two counts of failing to comply with the Heavy Vehicle National Law in June.
Babaniotis is the former director of interstate transport company Todiam Freightlines, which had previously pleaded guilty to an additional two counts of the same charge.
In sentencing, two of the four charges were dismissed.
Babaniotis pleaded guilty for failure to exercise due diligence in complying with a safety duty and was fined $14,000.
A Prohibition Order was imposed for a period of 12 months, excluding Babaniotis from engaging in any transport activities. This order is the first Prohibition Order that has been made under the HVNL.
Todiam Freightlines was also convicted of one count of failing to comply with its safety duty. The court indicated a fine of $120,000 but it was reduced to $84,000 due to a guilty plea.
In handing down the penalties, Magistrate Alexandrides said, “The offences committed by each of the defendants are a significant breach of their responsibilities under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
“The failure of the company to take reasonably practical measures available to the company to ensure the safety of its transport activities was grossly negligent.”
Magistrate Alexandrides added that a significant quantity of business and work records were found in a large container with weed killer, which damaged or destroyed those records.
“The fact that the records were found in those circumstances … starkly underlines the failure of the company to take reasonable measures to manage the relevant records and for the second defendant to show due diligence with respect to the record keeping for the company.”
NHVR’s acting executive director statutory compliance, Belinda Hughes, said the court result sent a strong message to the community that company executives who fail to meet their safety obligations will be held to account.
“Through records obtained from the investigation into the transport company, it was identified that the drivers regularly failed to comply with their minimum rest requirements, including false entries into work diaries,” Hughes said.
“Executives in particular must exercise their own personal due diligence obligations to check the company has ensured the safety of its transport activities, including the safety of all workers and independent contractors.”
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