Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Day 11 of the ICAC investigation into former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
Ms Berejiklian was the last witness to testify in the public inquiry, which has now adjourned to allow the ICAC to consider its findings. The final reports from the corruption watchdog can take months or even years.
The inquiry began last year as a review of the business and political relations of Mr Maguire, who has previously admitted to attempting to “monetize” his public service for private gain.
But the investigation heard surprise evidence in October last year that Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire were in a secret multi-year relationship that began in 2015 and continued well beyond his tenure as prime minister. She did not cut off contact with Mr. Maguire until September 13 of last year.
Almost a year later, on October 1 of this year, the ICAC announced that it was expanding its investigation to determine whether Ms. Berejiklian had been in a conflict between her private interests and her public duties or had engaged in conduct “likely to permit or encourage corruption”. by him. The announcement prompted Ms Berejiklian to announce her resignation from politics.
As part of this expanded investigation, the ICAC is investigating two “case studies” involving multi-million dollar grants or pledges made to organizations of Mr. Maguire’s electorate when Ms. Berejiklian was treasurer (from April 2015) and later Prime Minister (from January 2017). She denied any wrongdoing.
The ICAC heard the following testimony today.
Maguire told Berejiklian to get a “private phone”
Mr. Maguire texted Ms. Berejiklian on July 9, 2018, saying he was “chatting with my friends on [encrypted messaging app] WeChat now “and she should download the app. He also told her that she needed” to have a private phone. “
The messages were sent four days after he told the then prime minister in a tapped phone call that he had been summoned to testify before the ICAC as part of a separate investigation, and warned her that the ICAC “may be recording your conversation with me right now.”
Ms Berejiklian replied that she would âtryâ to download the app, adding: âWhat about WhatsApp, it’s that easyâ.
She told the ICAC that she had made no changes to her methods of communication and that Mr. Maguire may have told her to do so for “confidentiality reasons” unrelated to the ICAC.
Mr Maguire told Ms Berejiklian in subsequent posts that he had “scarecrows on rum [sic]And that “means I have more information and data than they do.”
Ms. Berejiklian told the ICAC that she had “no idea” of the meaning of the messages.
Mr. Maguire texted again: “They can read texts but not the little green man, that leaves no trace.”
When asked if this referred to the WeChat icon, Ms Berejiklian replied that it could have, but that she had never used the app. She said she didn’t have a private phone.
Berejiklian grilled on suspicion
Ms Berejiklian has been questioned on several occasions over the past two days whether she had any suspicion at any point that Mr Maguire had engaged in corrupt behavior, including after telling her during the phone call wiretapped on July 5, 2018, that he had been summoned. to testify in a previous ICAC investigation into the former Canterbury Council.
Under Section 11 of the ICAC Act, a NSW minister and other public officials have a duty to report to the corruption watchdog any matter that the person suspects for reasons reasonable to or relate to corrupt conduct.
Ultimately, no findings of corruption were made against Mr. Maguire as a result of this earlier investigation, although he admitted during his testimony on July 13, 2018, that he discussed a plan. aimed at negotiating land transactions for a real estate developer and sharing commissions with a city councilor. No money has changed hands.
The ICAC recommended in March this year that the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions consider charging him with the offense of providing false or misleading evidence to the corruption watchdog during the the 2018 survey.
Ms. Berejiklian repeatedly told the ICAC that she had “no knowledge” of Mr. Maguire’s wrongdoing and that she did not believe that she had any information that could have benefited the ICAC. . He had spoken to her when calling about his connections with some developers, but Ms Berejiklian said she did not know them and their last names had not even been given.
âClearly this organization had all of this knowledge and information,â she said. âThere was nothing I could remember; nothing that I remembered. I don’t know what I would have reported.
The ICAC overheard Mr Maguire tell Ms Berejiklian during a phone call in 2017 that he believed he could earn $ 1.5 million from a land deal. But Ms Berejiklian said she may not have listened and Mr Maguire often spoke of “pie in the sky” proposals that went unsuccessful. It turned out that Mr. Maguire did not receive the $ 1.5 million.
Berejiklian accused of lying by the ex-lawyer of the chief of staff
Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC today that her then chief of staff, Sarah Cruickshank, told her in July 2018 that she shouldn’t have anything to do with Mr. Maguire anymore, but she did not followed his advice.
Ms Cruickshank told the ICAC last week that the then Prime Minister called her on July 13, 2018, after Liberal New South Wales MP Daryl Maguire testified at the ICAC’s previous investigation of Canterbury Council, and had told her that she had been in a “historic” relationship with Mr Maguire which ended before she became Prime Minister in January 2017.
Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC in October last year that the relationship continued for much of her tenure as prime minister. She said today that she did not recall telling Ms Cruickshank that the relationship was only historical.
Ms Berejiklian said Ms Cruickshank told her after the conversation “to have nothing more to do” with Mr Maguire.
âI didn’t take that advice, obviously,â she said.
Ms Cruickshank’s attorney, Hugh White, told Ms Berejiklian that she “was not being honest” about what she told Ms Cruickshank about the length of the relationship.
Ms Berejiklian said Ms Cruickshank “is someone of tremendous integrity” and “I appreciate her having a different memory”.
Berejiklian rejects conflicts of interest
One of the key questions in the investigation is whether Ms Berejiklian broke the ministerial code of conduct by failing to disclose her relationship with Mr Maguire when the government approved millions of dollars in grants or pledges for her electorate. by Wagga Wagga.
Ms Berejiklian said that she “completely rejected[ed]âThe proposition that the relationship affected the way she performed her public duties.
âIt has always been separated from my public responsibilityâ¦ I support it very strongly,â Ms. Berejiklian said.
Next steps in the investigation
The next steps are for lawyers representing parties to the ICAC to prepare written submissions on the evidence. The ICAC takes these observations into account when preparing its final report, which sets out its findings on the evidence and the parties at the center of the investigation.
The ICAC may also make recommendations in its final report on whether the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions should consider criminal charges in connection with one of the targets of the investigation. These recommendations are not always made.
Ms Berejiklian has a team of senior lawyers acting for her, including Sydney attorneys Bret Walker, SC, and Sophie Callan, SC.
Ms Callan was a prosecutor in the recent trial of former NSW labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, and Mr Obeid’s son Moses. The three men were sentenced to prison terms for their role in a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office over a lucrative license to explore for coal on the Obeid family’s farm in Bylong. Valley.
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