Snouts in the trough: ICAC uncovers illegal donations

THE state's corruption watchdog has recommended criminal charges against former Labor minister Joe Tripodi and former Liberal MP Chris Hartcher, with a swathe of other politicians and businessmen also in the firing line.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has handed down its findings from Operation Spicer, a probe into allegations of illegal developer donations to NSW Liberal politicians.

Among the recommendations in the 172-page report were:

•  Mr Tripodi should be prosecuted for the misconduct in public office - a common law offence - after providing developer Buildev with a confidential document relating to Newcastle report "in the hope he could secure future benefit from Buildev"

• Mr Hartcher should face larceny charges for taking illegal political donations channelled through business Eightbyfive during the 2011 Central Coast election campaign

• The DPP should consider charges against former Liberal MP Andrew Cornwell, his wife Samantha Brookes, former Liberal staffer Timothy Koelma, and businessmen Timothy Gunasinghe and William Saddington for giving false or misleading evidence

"The ICAC found that during November and December 2010 the Free Enterprise Foundation was used to channel donations to the NSW Liberal Party for its 2011 state election campaign so that the identity of the true donors was disguised," ICAC said in a statement.

"A substantial portion of the $693,000 provided by the foundation and used by the NSW Liberal Party in the campaign originated from donors who were property developers and, therefore, prohibited donors under the election funding laws.

"Undisclosed political donations were also channelled through a business, Eightbyfive, to benefit Liberal Party 2011 state election campaigns on the Central Coast.

"These donations included donations from property developers and donations in excess of the applicable caps on donations."

The investigation found property developers, who were prohibited donors, made payments to help fund NSW Liberal Party candidates' campaigns in the Hunter.

"The true nature of these payments was disguised, for example, as consultancy services or funnelled through another company with the intention of evading the election funding laws," it said.

The full list of people ICAC found had tried to evade election laws about disclosing political donations and the ban on donations from developers is as follows:

• Raymond Carter (former Liberal staffer)
• Andrew Cornwell (former Liberal MP)
• Garry Edwards (former Liberal MP)
• Mike Gallacher (current Liberal upper house MP)
• Nabil Gazal Jnr (developer)
• Nicholas Gazal (developer)
• Hilton Grugeon (developer)
• Chris Hartcher (former Liberal MP, former energy minister)

Chris Hartcher
Chris Hartcher

• Tim Koelma (former Liberal staffer)
• Jeff McCloy (former Newcastle mayor, developer)
• Tim Owen (former Liberal MP)
• Chris Spence (former Liberal MP)
• Hugh Thomson (former Liberal campaign manager, lawyer)
• Darren Williams (developer)
Those who ICAC found had also flouted laws relating to caps on political donations:
• Hilton Grugeon (developer)
• Chris Hartcher (developer)
• Tim Koelma (former Liberal staffer)
• Jeff McCloy (former Newcastle mayor, developer)
• Tim Owen (former Liberal MP)
• Hugh Thomson (former Liberal campaign manager, lawyer)
• Darren Williams (developer)


The Commission also found current Liberal MP Craig Baumann, businessman Nick Di Girolamo, businessman Troy Palmer and former Liberal MP Darren Webber acted with the intention of evading the election funding laws relating to the disclosure of political donations and that Bart Bassett knowingly solicited a political donation from a property developer.


A perfect day at the races

A perfect day at the races

It was a perfect day for the races in Taroom on Saturday.

Aged care services can share in boost

Aged care services can share in boost

Aged care service providers can apply for one-off grants.

Aged care providers encouraged to apply for grant

Aged care providers encouraged to apply for grant

GRANTS up to $500,000 on offer

Local Partners