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Pregnancy hormones clouded judgment, ICAC told

Date

Louise Hall

Sydney University ... where a manager is being investigated for corruption.

Sydney University ... where a manager is being investigated for corruption.

The wife of a former senior IT manager at the University of Sydney being investigated for alleged corruption says she was affected by ''pregnancy hormones'' when she took part-ownership of a lucrative business supplying contract labour to the university.

Virginia Kantarzis yesterday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption she was just days away from giving birth when she met an accountant, Nicholas Moustacas, and instructed him to set up the company Succuro Recruitment.

The inquiry heard the university paid Succuro Recruitment more than $1.7 million in fees between June 2008 and June 2010. Ms Kantarzis's husband, Atilla ''Todd'' Demiralay, was responsible for placing orders for casual and contract IT staff during this period.

The couple claim they were unaware they were directors and shareholders in Succuro, despite signing several formal documents establishing the company and their roles in it.

''I was 8½ or nine months pregnant and in hindsight I don't think I was in any state of mind to be signing any documents, let alone setting up a company,'' Ms Kantarzis said.

She thought Mr Moustacas was setting up a different company called I-Select, which she and her husband would jointly own with another man, Bill Mylonas.

Ms Kantarzis said in addition to the hormonal changes pregnant women usually experience, she was taking hormone supplements due to the baby being conceived via IVF.

However, the inquiry was shown emails Ms Kantarzis sent to Mr Moustacas confirming the couple's intention to be directors of Succuro in the weeks after their daughter was born.

''I had a newborn at home, I didn't have much time, I didn't want to sit there reading a whole batch of documents that didn't mean much to me. It was negligent of me,'' Ms Kantarzis said.

Despite claiming she never intended to become an owner of Succuro, counsel assisting the inquiry, Jeremy Morris, said Ms Kantarzis took no steps to change the company name to I-Select for another seven months. However, she did remove her husband's name from the public register.

In June 2010, Mr Demiralay was sent an email by a colleague with a link to an ICAC investigation into another Sydney University manager accused of directing business to her family's company.

Days later, he and Ms Kantarzis signed a document transferring their shareholding in the company to Mr Mylonas.

Both have denied divesting themselves of Succuro shares to avoid a corruption investigation.

''The dates are very coincidental,'' Ms Kantarzis said.

The inquiry will make its findings on a date to be set.

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