The former lover of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confessed using his public office for personal profit, accepting deliveries of cash to Parliament House and secretly directing a company boasting its “influence reaches to high levels of government”.
Disgraced Liberal MP Daryl Maguire faced the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday, two days after Ms Berejiklian stunned her colleagues by revealing her five-year romance with the disgraced former MP.
On oath, the former MP, parliamentary secretary and NSW Asia-Pacific parliamentary friendship group chair was asked if he’d used his public offices between 2012 and 2018 “with a view to making money for yourself and … your associates”.
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“Yes” came the reply.
The man first elected to parliament in 1999 admitted using taxpayer-funded facilities including his office and printers and parliamentary staff to help run a firm he secretly directed.
G8wayInternational, established in 2012, struck visa deals and sought to help Chinese buyers link with Australian winemakers, cotton growers, miners and other businesses.
On a website Mr Maguire said was “not well developed”, the firm boasted that its “influence and experience reaches to high levels of government”.
It charged a commission of up to 10 per cent on sales that came from its networking efforts – though the former MP told the inquiry many deals fell through.
A more profitable arm was its visa scheme, involving Chinese nationals paying a commission of up to $20,000 to get a visa to work with Australian firms.
The inquiry was told businesses in return didn’t have to pay the workers’ wages for the first three months and received a “training fee”.
On more than one occasion, Mr Maguire accepted deliveries of thousands of dollars of cash commissions to his parliament house office.
Concerns were raised in 2013 that businesses had no obligation to employ the worker and, alternatively, some workers were not turning up to work after entering Australia.
“Do you agree then that at the time you referred at least some of these businesses you knew it was not a what I’ll call ‘a legitimate immigration scheme’ but rather was in the nature of what I’ve called ‘a cash-for-visa scheme’?” Scott Robertson, counsel assisting the commissioner, asked.
“On reflection yes,” Mr Maguire replied.
Mr Robertson then retorted “not on reflection”.
“You knew that at the time you were referring at least some of these businesses, do you agree,” the barrister said.
“Yes,” came the reply.
Mr Maguire also admitted he “should have” updated the premier about his conflicts of interest, as per his obligations under the NSW ministerial code of conduct.
Ms Berejiklian re-appointed Mr Maguire to a parliamentary secretary role when she became premier in January 2017.
The ICAC is investigating a range of allegations against Mr Maguire including that he misused his public office to broker property deals in western Sydney that would financially benefit him.
On Monday, the inquiry heard intercepted phone conversations between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire in which she said she didn’t need to know details about his business deals.
“I stuffed up in my personal life,” she said after the hearing.
“Had I known then what I know now, clearly I would not have made those personal decisions.”
On Tuesday Ms Berejiklian said she was “absolutely unaware” of any alleged impropriety by him.
The inquiry continues.
© AAP 2020