David Stewart resigns in order to address corruption scandal engulfing his previous employer Leighton Holdings

Laing O'Rourke

Laing O’Rourke’s Australian boss has stepped down amid allegations of corruption at his previous employer Leighton Holdings.

Laing O’Rourke said David Stewart had resigned as chief executive of its Australian business with immediate effect following recent media reports in Australia relating to business practices at Leighton Holdings, where he was chief executive.

The reports concern alleged cover ups and bribery at the Australian mining and construction giant, which last year sparked a federal police investigation.

The latest reports contained details of hundreds of confidential documents that alleged that corruption was rife across the company.

In a three-page statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Leighton said it was “deeply concerned” by the allegations but was not aware of any new allegations or instances of a breach of its ethics.

Laing O’Rourke said Stewart had resigned so that he could concentrate exclusively on addressing the allegations without the risk of causing damage to Laing O’Rourke’s reputation.

Laing O’Rourke said Cathal O’Rourke had been appointed managing director of Laing O’Rourke’s Australian business with immediate effect.

Laing O’Rourke Group chief executive Anna Stewart, said: “I am grateful to David for taking the tough decision to step down at this time. His action respects the exemplary business values and ethical practices that Laing O’Rourke maintains through its relationships with our clients and stakeholders.”

In the year to 31 March 2013, the firm’s £1.6bn turnover Australian business bounced back into the black after two years of losses, reporting profit of £25m.

David Savage, Leighton’s former chief operating officer, also stepped down from the board of Keller last week, where he has been a non-executive director since 2011.