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(AUSTRALIA) Obeid Part Two Report: As corrupt politician Eddie Obeid fought to stay out of prison this year, his family was secretly backing two controversial coastal property developments #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Nov.09: The proposal has split the local community, fearful it could see the entire area opened for development” It has also led to allegations the family is targeting Aboriginal-owned land in pursuit of new deals.

#AceDailyNews according to a ‘Four Corners‘ Report: An investigation has found the Obeids have concealed their involvement in a $100-million beachside apartment project in the tiny town of Hawks Nest and allegations they are targeting Aboriginal-owned land ….

Sweeping coastline beach front at Hawks Nest
The untouched beachfront at Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito  )

Howard’s hideaway

Locals having a coffee in Hawks Nest town centre.
Locals having a coffee in Hawks Nest town centre.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

The quiet seaside town of Hawks Nest, population 1200, lies  2.5  hours north of Sydney. 

A retiree man walks his dog in Hawks Nest in front of a hedge.
A man walks his dog in Hawks Nest.

It was the regular holiday destination of former prime minister John Howard in the mid-1990s.

Little has changed here since.

Retirees after swimming at Jimmy's Beach in Hawks Nest.
People swimming at Jimmy’s Beach in Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

There are holiday houses, pelicans and a population dominated by retirees.

Two kids riding on bikes in Hawks Nest
Kids riding on bikes in Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

 Kids on bikes share the streets with wandering brush turkeys.

Cakes and treats on shelves at the Hawks Nest bakery.
Cakes and treats on offer at the Hawks Nest bakery.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

A bakery, surf shop and newsagent selling bait and tackle remain the shopping highlights.  

Lorna Russom inside the Mungo Road surf shop.
Lorna Russom, who owns the Mungo Road surf shop.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

Lorna Russom has run the surf shop on the main street for 30 years. 

“People that come here, aren’t really looking for that glitz and glamour,” she says. 

“They come here because they love the nature.”

The centrepiece of this rustic getaway is an untouched stretch of beach running north from the town to the national park.

A cyclist riding on the beach at Hawks Nest
A cyclist riding on the beach at Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
a older man in a wet suit stands at the ocean shore
The ‘Mullets’ ocean swimming group meet every morning at 7:30am.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Shells on the beach at Hawks Nest
Shells on the beach at Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

“You’ve got 15km of pristine beach with not a building in sight,” says local resident and conservationist, Ian Morphett.

This will change if the Obeids get their way.

Obeid Inc.

Eddie Obeid was sentenced in October to a minimum of three years and 10 months in prison for his part in rigging a lucrative mining tender on family-owned land west of Sydney.

Second son Moses Obeid will be in prison for at least three years for his role in the same conspiracy.

Composite of family patriarch Eddie Obeid (left) and Moses Obeid (right).
Family patriarch Eddie Obeid (left) and Moses Obeid (right).(Sydney Morning Herald: Edwina Pickles, Dean Sewell)

The NSW government has vowed to go after the $30 million Eddie and Moses Obeid corruptly obtained from the deal, plus the millions more they owe in legal fees and court costs.

“You can’t act corruptly, you can’t make $30 million [corruptly] and keep it,” says NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.

“It’s outrageous if that’s the case.”

Barrister Geoffrey Watson SC, who helped uncover the dodgy dealings of Eddie Obeid and his family during sensational hearings as counsel assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption says the family’s business structure is straightforward and often used. 

“You have their involvement disguised or concealed by a $2 company with directors who are associates of the Obeids, but with a different surname,” he says.

“They love a little trustee, a discretionary trust in which these people who are cooperative agree to hold benefits on trust for the Obeid family.”

Beachside buy

While the family patriarch and second son, Moses Obeid are in jail, two of his other sons — Gerard and Eddie Jr — are guiding the family’s coastal property interests, according to documents obtained by Four Corners.

Eddie Obeid Jr (left) and Gerard Obeid (right).(AAP: Daniel Munoz, AFR: Nic Walker)

Their plans include a $100-million proposal to build at least 140 apartments on a beachside site next to the golf course at Hawks Nest.

One of the companies that purchased the land was the Leric Group, whose sole director is Merwin “Memo” Ibrahim.

He has emerged as a key figure in the Obeids’ growing coastal property interests and is a long-standing family friend. 

Proposed development site at Hawks Nest
The proposed development is marketed as “elevated luxury apartments with ocean views”.(Hawks Nest Beachside)

He also has multiple links to developments backed by the Obeid family, including a proposed apartment complex on Pacific Drive in Port Macquarie.  

Once again, the Obeids have not put their name to this development, though fourth son, Gerard, lives next door.

The apartment complex at Pacific Drive is being developed by a company called Laurus Projects.

Merwin Ibrahim was a founding shareholder of Laurus — a company Eddie Jr works with, according to his email address.

“I consult to them …. when you consult for someone, they give you an email address,” he told Four Corners.

Drone shot of the town Hawks Nest
Hawks Nest is a small town in the MidCoast council area.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

Eddie Jr says he looks at “development opportunities” for Laurus.

“We’re entitled to do business,” he says.

Merwin Ibrahim also co-owns three blocks of land where the Pacific Drive apartment complex is slated to be built. 

He says he’s a friend of Gerard and Eddie Jr, but has never been in business with them.

“I have no business with any of the Obeid family. Never ever,” he told Four Corners.

Gerard and Eddie Jr did not respond to written questions about the family’s involvement in Pacific Drive or Hawks Nest.

The head of Laurus Projects told Four Corners the Obeid family has no involvement in the Pacific Drive development. 

A person fishing in Hawks Nest with their back to the camera.
Exactly who is behind the Hawks Nest development has been a well-kept secret.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Car driving in the night
Locals have described the development process as a ‘mystery’.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Houses in Hawks Nest
The development plans could change Hawks Nest forever.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

‘Winning Powerball’

The development activity at Hawks Nest is focused on a 1.4-hectare block purchased from the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council for $600,000 in 2018.

The sale of the beachside site, along with another 9.6-hectare plot of land nearby for a total of $1.5 million, has split the local Indigenous community.

Karuah elder Hector Saunders looks into the distance.
Karuah elder Hector Saunders didn’t want the land granted to the local Aboriginal people to be sold.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

“I was against it,” says Karuah elder Hector Saunders.

“A lot of people didn’t want it.”

Venessa Saunders on a jetty.
Elder Venessa Saunders says traditional owners didn’t feel consulted.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

His partner, elder Venessa Saunders, said the decision did not have the support of the whole community.

“The board was making decisions on behalf of community, not consulting the community. And that’s where the breakdown was,” she says.

Jan Webb, who grew up on what was previously known as “the mission” at Karuah and now lives in Hawks Nest, says she was not told about the meeting.

“It’s very upsetting. When I found out I couldn’t believe it, that it [the land] was sold,” she says.

“My dad was a founding member of the land council. He’s since passed on, but he was passionate and stipulated that we must keep that land forever, for our future generations to enjoy.”

The former chief executive of the land council, Len Roberts, disputes these objections and maintains there was unanimous community support for the land sale.

“Anyone that says that there was opposition is living in mystical land,” he says.

Pelican flying in Hawks Nest
A Pelican flying in Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

The sale price of $600,000 for the beachside plot, while above the market valuation at the time, didn’t take into account the likelihood of the site being re-zoned for housing.

The MidCoast council rezoned the land in April this year and a development application will likely to be lodged next year.

This could see the value of the land climb above $6 million, a massive windfall for the developers.

Prime beachfront land with a small wooden pole in the ground
Locals are very concerned about future development impacting the beachfront.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Ferns near rocks
Some traditional owners are upset the land has been sold to developers.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Trees amongst prime beachfront land
Bushland near the beach at Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Hawks Nest bushland
Many residents want coastal bushland in Hawks Nest to remain undeveloped.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

“I thought the sale price was incredibly cheap … it was like winning the Powerball [for the developers],” says Councillor Peter Epov, who sits on the Mid-Coast Council alongside Len Roberts.

Mr Roberts told Four Corners he’s never had any contact with the Obeid family.

“If I had a whiff that Obeid was involved in selling that land, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

“I’m going to go back to council and I’m going to say that I’ve got grilled by Four Corners, taken by surprise … and that [the] Obeid family [is] supposed involved in this.”

Watch the investigation unfold tonight on Four Corners at 8:30pm on ABC TV.

Setting precedent

As the plans for the Hawks Nest site progress through council, locals fear it could set a precedent for the entire beachfront strip to be opened for development.

“The residents have just really had enough of big developers coming in from out of town with a lot of money, who are never going to live here,” says Shane Andrews, who moved to Hawks Nest 13 years ago with his partner, Kathy Poldmaa.

Shane Andrews and his partner Kathy Poldmaa outside their house.
Shane Andrews and his partner Kathy Poldmaa.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

He says the town needs permanent residents, not more holiday apartments.

“I don’t think it’s going to benefit the community in the long term,” he says.

“Is it going to increase the membership at the surf club? Increase the kids in the local school? Create more jobs in the community for the maintenance guy or the builders or the house painters? I don’t think it is.[

Hawks Nest beach flag
Hawks Nest has uninterrupted beaches.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
The planned development includes 140 apartments directly on the beachfront.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Hawks Nest beach
Some locals want more permanent residents to drive development, rather than holiday accommodation. (Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

“I think it’s purely a money grab from a developer.”

Novelist Di Morrissey, who lives on a property north of Hawks Nest, and also runs a free local newspaper, has been keeping an eye on the development.

She says it has been shrouded in mystery.

“No one really seemed to know what was going on. No one wanted to talk about it. Everybody was evasive.” she says.

“I’ve come up against a few, shall we say rumours, but I haven’t been able to prove where they were connected.”

Novelist Di Morrisey in her home
Novelist Di Morrissey says the development’s been shrouded in mystery.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

Aboriginal-owned land

Four Corners can reveal the Obeids, in their pursuit of more coastal property, are strategically targeting Aboriginal-owned land for development.

One of their targets was land around Port Macquarie, a favourite holiday destination of the family and home to Gerard.

Through an intermediary, the Obeids made contact with David Carroll, chief executive of the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.

In June this year, an approach was made by Jason Irvine, a long-time associate of the Obeid family who was sacked from the Parramatta Eels rugby league club in 2015 for his role in salary cap breaches.

At the time, Mr Carroll didn’t know that he’d also be meeting with Gerard Obeid.

David Carroll sitting in a chair.
David Carroll is chief executive of the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.(Four Corners: Louie Eroglu ACS)

“When he said ‘Obeid’, I paused for a second,” says Mr Carroll.

“And [I thought], ‘Ah, OK, I will just have to make sure everything we do is above board’.”

Documents reveal Eddie Jr was also invited to the meeting, but didn’t attend.

“They [Gerard Obeid and Jason Irvine] talked about how they’ve worked with other Aboriginal community groups,” says Mr Carroll.

“They said, ‘Look, we’ve done a big deal with the Karuah Land Council [at Hawks Nest]. You should talk to them. They’re all happy with what we’ve done down there.'”

Golf course at Hawks Nest
The development would sit on a prime beachside site next to the golf course at Hawks Nest.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

Prior to the meeting, Mr Irvine sent Mr Carroll an email saying “we” are working “on a large development … in Hawks Nest”.

He followed up after the meeting with an email titled “our projects” and included an attachment outlining the Hawks Nest development.

‘Big plans’ 

The Hawks Nest development next to the golf club is just part of what the Obeids have described as their “big plans” for the town.

There is talk of a five-star hotel, retail precinct and more apartments, according to two separate sources who have discussed the plans with an Obeid family member.

To achieve this, more land would need to be purchased.

Hawks Nest has stretches of untouched bushland.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Tree in bushland at Hawks Nest
There’s also talk of a five-star hotel, retail precinct and more apartments.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Residents fear more development will destroy what they love about the village.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

An option being discussed is tapping into the 270 hectares of prime land the Karuah Land Council has been granted at Hawks Nest in recent years. 

A retirement village, on a site owned by the Karuah Land Council, is already in the works.

Four Corners has seen a draft development deed between the same developers and the land council, for the construction of a seniors village near the golf course.

Some locals fear the beachfront apartment development is just the start of big changes for the town.

Hawks Nest residents looking at real estate sign
Hawks Nest is a popular holiday accommodation destination.(Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)
Real estate sign in Hawks Nest
Some locals fear the development is just the start of big changes for the town. (Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

“If this development goes ahead, then it will be the thin end of the wedge of further developments. It’s going to be a nightmare,” says conservationist Ian Morphett.

Karuah woman Jan Webb is devastated by the proposals.

“If I see a development go ahead there, it’ll just break me. It’s not something I agree with. It’s not part of me. It’s not part of my culture.”

People walking along the beach at Hawks Nest
Locals describe the beach at Hawks Nest as ‘pristine’.      (Four Corners: Brendan Esposito)

Credits:

Posted 20h ago, updated 14h ago

#AceNewsDesk report …………….Published: Nov.09: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) ICAC Obeid Inc Report: The secret deals making the family millions: “I am satisfied that the objective seriousness of the conspiracy was one of the highest order.” Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Nov.07: The Obeids bought a family farm up in the Bylong Valley. They seem to have discovered that there was coal under the soil. And they set out to manipulate that… it was just like a windfall profit.” Former Counsel Assisting, NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)….

#AceDailyNews says according to a Four Corners Investigation Obeid Inc Report: Today, his name is a byword for corruption and abuse of office. Just over two weeks ago, he was sentenced to jail for a second time, after being found guilty alongside one of his sons of conspiring to rig a lucrative mining tender to benefit the family.

Obeid Inc thumbnail

Obeid Inc, reported by Angus Grigg, goes to air on Monday 8th November at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 9th at 1.00pm and Wednesday 10th at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

“I am satisfied that the objective seriousness of the conspiracy was one of the highest order.” Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton

The name Eddie Obeid once inspired fear. As a Labor factional boss, he was the ultimate backroom kingmaker.

“He didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to fraternise…To me, his business was done behind closed doors.” Former NSW MP

The corruption watchdog’s investigations into the Obeid dealings exposed the inner workings of the family business model.

“The Obeids operation is simple, straightforward, and it’s used over and over and over again…They love a little trustee, a discretionary trust in which these people who are cooperative agree to hold benefits on trust for the Obeid’s family.” Former Counsel Assisting, ICAC

But the story does not end with Eddie Obeid behind bars: A staggering $30 million dollars from that criminal deal is still in hands of Eddie Obeid and his family companies, and they owe millions more in court costs and unpaid taxes. On Monday, Four Corners reveals how business is still booming for the Obeids and funding their lavish lifestyle.

“They’re still in private schools, they’re still in luxury houses, they’re still living their affluent lifestyle. It doesn’t appear to have had any negative impact at all. As far as I can tell…it’s just business as usual.” Star witness

For months Four Corners has been on the financial trail and has uncovered secret business dealings which could reap the Obeids millions more.

“What if I told you the Obeid family, that is Eddie Obeid and his children are behind that?” Angus Grigg, reporter…..

#AceNewsDesk report …………….Published: Nov.07: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) ICAC REPORT: Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has vowed to “get on with my life” after giving evidence at a corruption inquiry for a second day #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Nov.02: The watchdog is considering whether she turned a blind eye to alleged corrupt conduct despite an obligation to report suspicions: Ms Berejiklian addressed the media after she finished giving evidence today: She reiterated that every decision she ever made was in the “public’s interest” and said the inquiry had been “difficult” for her: I intend to get on with my life and I want to thank everybody for their support,” she said: It has been my honour and privilege to serve you in my role in public life………..Earlier, Ms Berejiklian denied lying to her then-chief of staff about her secret relationship with Mr Maguire being “historical”.

#AceDailyNews says according to continuing reports Gladys Berejiklian vows to ‘get on with my life’ after giving evidence at ICAC inquiry as she lost her pension and job more to come as the committee continue their investigating on whether she breached public trust by failing to declare a potential conflict of interest during her secret relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire: As it happened: Berejiklian gives evidenceGladys Berejiklian has given evidence for a second day at a corruption inquiry after Friday’s hearing exposed a series of extraordinary calls between the former premier and her then-boyfriend Daryl Maguire. See how the day unfolded.

Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 20 seconds
Gladys Berejiklian speaks to media after ICAC

Under questioning, Ms Berejiklian agreed news of the relationship would have been “politically explosive”, but she claimed whether the “on-again-off-again” liaison was ongoing while she was premier was irrelevant.

Play Video. Duration: 3 minutes 24 seconds
Ms Berejiklian describes shock at hearing of Darryl Maguire’s evidence at ICAC

Sarah Cruickshank last week told the ICAC she clearly remembered a phone call in July 2018 in which Ms Berejiklian said her connection to Mr Maguire ended before she took the state’s top job.

“That’s not my recollection, that’s not what I remember,” Ms Berejiklian said today.

“I remember telling her how close we were, the time that we’d spent together.”

“I don’t think that would have made a difference whatsoever,” she said.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson repeatedly quizzed Ms Berejiklian on the exact timeframe of her relationship with Mr Maguire, before applying to enter a temporarily closed session to “further explore this matter with the witness”.

“I wish to do it by reference to some material available to me, which in my respectful submission, is more appropriately dealt with in private than in public,” he said.

The former premier also told the inquiry she believed Mr Maguire’s requests for her to use a private phone or encrypted apps reflected a concern for privacy. 

The commission has heard Mr Maguire told Ms Berejiklian he received a summons to appear before a separate ICAC inquiry in July 2018 in advance of his appearance.

Between the time he informed her of the summons and his appearance before the commission, Mr Maguire sent Ms Berejiklian a link to the app WeChat.

Sarah Cruickshank
Former chief of staff Sarah Cruickshank gave evidence at the inquiry last week.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

“You need to get a private phone,” he added in intercepted text messages.

She asked if everything was OK and Mr Maguire made a mysterious statement about having “more info and data than them”.

“I wouldn’t have taken it as any more than privacy issues,” Ms Berejiklian said of his requests.

Ms Berejiklian repeatedly insisted she trusted Mr Maguire when he told her he had done nothing wrong and said she “certainly” knew she had done nothing wrong herself.

Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 56 seconds
Gladys Berejiklian questioned on whether her failure to report was due to her feelings for Daryl Maguire

Mr Maguire also wrote: “They can read texts but not the little green man, it leaves no trace.”

Asked whether the “green man” may have been a reference to the green WeChat icon, Ms Berejiklian said she was unsure and never used the app.

During the 52-minute phone call in which he told her of the summons, Mr Maguire also referenced property developers and making introductions.

Ms Berejiklian insisted she had no knowledge of his dealings.

“That’s what I was told, doesn’t mean that I absorbed, cared or assumed or knew anything else,” she said.

Mr Maguire made admissions about being involved in a money-making exercise linked to the Canterbury Council during his 2018 evidence. 

Ms Berejiklian said she was “mortified” and “shocked” because it was “not, in my opinion at the time, within his character”.

a man standing inside a lift
The ICAC heard Daryl Maguire urged Gladys Berejiklian to get a private phone.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

“The shock of what happened did make me question everything,” she said.

But Ms Berejiklian said while she suspected something was “awry” and Mr Maguire may have lied to her, she did not suspect corrupt conduct and assumed he was unintentionally caught up in something.

This was despite her warning to him, during the earlier tapped phone call, against associating with “dodgy people”.

“He told me that there was nothing to worry about, and it was almost a mistake or he’d been caught up in something unawares, as opposed to having a close association with them.”

Mr Maguire was under a “cloud”, she said, but she did not “join the dots” with previous information he had told her about a Badgerys Creek land deal.

“Was the fact that you didn’t make a report about Mr Maguire influenced by the feelings that you had for Mr Maguire at the time?” Mr Robertson asked.

“No. No. Because I sacked him,” Ms Berejiklian replied.

“It was based on the fact that I didn’t feel that I knew anything. I didn’t know any details. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t suspect him of corruption.”

Under cross-examination by her own barrister, Sophie Callan SC, Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC members of parliament contacted her with problems to be fixed “all too frequently” and contacted her in “a myriad of ways”.

“That was my style of leadership,” she said.

two people in suits
Ms Berejiklian was cross-examined by her own barrister team of Ms Callan and Brett Walker. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“Members of my team, of the government and even other members of parliament knew that I was accessible and there to support them in issues they wanted to progress for the electorates.”

Ms Callan then put to Ms Berejiklian one of the commission’s central questions for consideration: that as treasurer and then premier she had a private interest, namely her close personal relationship, which objectively had the potential to influence the performance of her public duties.

“I completely rejected that suggestion,” she replied.

Ms Berejiklian said the relationship was always separate to her public responsibilities.

“What I felt for him was completely separate to what I did in terms of executing my responsibilities, and I stand by that ever so strongly.”

Ms Callan then asked: “Did you feel your emotional attachment to him influenced the performance of your public duties?”

“Not at all,” the former premier replied.

The public hearings have now adjourned to a date to be fixed.

All parties will have the opportunity to make submissions before the ICAC begins to prepare a report and findings.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) ICAC REPORT: During her first day in the witness box at the Independent on Friday, she stressed that she had done nothing wrong #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.31: She never made decisions that would favour anyone but the people of New South Wales. She had never suspected that the man with whom she was in a secret relationship had ever engaged in corrupt conduct.

#AceDailyNews says according to Australia News Media on UPDATE on Gladys Berejiklian’s Case at the ICAC as media blitz backfired and she was defiant and utterly unrepentant as she did not recall having any particular interest in a government grant awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association, a project long pursued by her secret partner, the former member for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire listen to the videos on this post and decide for yourselves …..

Gladys Berejiklian surrounded by media
Gladys Berejiklian arrives to give evidence at ICAC.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

She did not give any special attention to Mr Maguire’s projects, she said, telling ICAC that he was treated no differently to any other member of her government.

Daryl Maguire stands behind Gladys Berejiklian during a media conference.
Gladys Berejiklian has admitted she had a five-year secret relationship with Daryl Maguire.(ABC News)

Gladys Berejiklian is a disciplined, practised politician who rarely strays from her talking points. But the witness box in ICAC is a very different beast to the floor of parliament or a TV press conference. There is an art to answering questions in these formats.

At a press conference in August, the then-premier told 7.30 it was a “ridiculous” proposition to suggest that she intervened in a grant assessment.

But that kind of response doesn’t fly at ICAC. The NSW government has empowered the agency to compel witnesses to answer questions. Barristers are sticklers for yes or no responses.

On no less than six occasions, ICAC Commissioner Ruth McColl pulled up Ms Berejiklian for not answering questions, or for drifting off into speech-making. 

There was plenty for counsel assisting to rake over. Phone intercept after phone intercept was played, detailing conversations between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire about funding in his electorate. Some were explosive.

A key allegation being explored by ICAC is whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust by failing to disclose her relationship with Mr Maguire while facilitating the awarding of two grants in his electorate.

In a phone call intercepted less than a month before Mr Maguire’s reputation was shredded at his first ICAC appearance in 2018, Ms Berejiklian casually tells him that she’s secured $170 million in funding for Wagga Base Hospital.

“I’ve just fixed that one,” says Gladys Berejiklian. In the same call, she tells Daryl Maguire she secured the funding “in five minutes” after speaking to then-treasurer, now Premier, Dominic Perrottet.

“I just spoke to Dom and I said put the 140 [million dollars] in the budget. 

“He just does what I ask him to.”

Gladys Berejiklian gives evidence at the ICAC
Gladys Berejiklian gives evidence at ICAC on Friday.(Supplied: ICAC)

When Gladys Berejiklian was asked by counsel assisting whether she would have made a similar intervention for another MP, she replied: “Yes, I’m confident I would have.”

In an intercepted call the previous year, Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire discuss his pet project to revamp the Riverina Conservatorium of Music. During this phone call, Gladys Berejiklian complains about a government bureaucrat working on the funding proposal. 

“I can’t stand that guy,” says the former premier. “His head will be gone soon.”

But Daryl Maguire objects: “Not until he fixes my conservatorium.”

Gladys Berejiklian responds: “Alright, good, tell him to fix it and then after he fixes it, I’m sacking him.”

Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire
Daryl Maguire says he and Gladys Berejiklian loved each other.(Supplied)

The most painful questions were about the status of their relationship. It bordered on Shakespearean. For two people who loved each other to be called to a corruption hearing on consecutive days must have been excruciating.

Ms Berejiklian’s barrister did her best to try and stop these questions from being asked in a public hearing, requesting that these matters be canvassed in private.

This was rejected. And in making the case against it, counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson argued that it may be that Ms Berejiklian in some respects exposed herself to at least some of this scrutiny.

When the first sensational revelation emerged that Gladys Berejiklian had been in a close and personal relationship with the former Wagga MP last October, the then-premier embarked on a media blitz.

Splashed across the front page of The Daily Telegraph were the words, “I loved him … but I’ll never speak to him again”. Mr Robertson questioned whether this was consistent with what she had said about the relationship not being of sufficient status to warrant disclosure. He said that this was one of the reasons why he intended to explore the relationship in public hearings now.

A woman looks down
Gladys Berejiklian maintained her relationship with Daryl Maguire was not of sufficient status to warrant disclosure.(ABC News: James Carmody)

At one point, Ms Berejiklian was presented with a text message that she sent Daryl Maguire, telling him: “You are my family.” But under questioning, she maintained that he wasn’t a family member in any sense that would require disclosure. Round and round the inquiry went, into what exactly Ms Berejiklian considered the relationship was and wasn’t. 

She said she had doubts about how committed he was. She pointed out that they did not share a bank account and she never introduced him to her family. So the relationship did not need to be disclosed. She said it had never occurred to her that the relationship should be factored in when making funding decisions in his electorate.

Mr Maguire had no such indecision. This week, he told the Commission he loved Ms Berejiklian and that she loved him. They discussed marriage. He had a key to her house.

A man looks at the camera with a neutral expression
Daryl Maguire gives evidence to ICAC on Thursday.(Supplied: ICAC)

When asked whether he ever returned Ms Berejiklian’s key, he looked away, pausing for a long moment, before saying he hadn’t. It was a painful moment. Ms Berejiklian went on to say that she had now changed the locks.

There is a purpose to all of this. As Mr Robertson told the inquiry, it goes to the heart of whether Ms Berejiklian breached the high standards set for ministers — standards that she set for herself, as she oversaw the ministerial code when she was premier. According to Mr Robertson, the status of the relationship is crucial in determining whether it warranted disclosure. And if it did, whether it amounted to a breach of the rules.

The former premier said that if she had the chance again, she would still not have disclosed the relationship to her government colleagues.

ICAC does not run trials. Mr Robertson reminded us this week that what ICAC does is investigate: it is charged with holding public hearings in public when it considers the public interest in holding them outweighs the interest of a person’s privacy.

Bodies like ICAC have been described as being part of the fourth branch of government: the integrity branch. Former chief justice of the NSW Supreme Court James Spigelman wrote that the basis for the existence of this branch “is the fundamental necessity to ensure that corruption, in a broad sense of that term, is eliminated from government”. 

That function was on full display this week and into the next at these public hearings, as Ms Berejiklian continues her evidence on Monday

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Oct.31: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) ICAC REPORT: A defiant Gladys Berejiklian has told a corruption inquiry she would not have revealed her secret relationship with Daryl Maguire to her colleagues even now #AceNewsDesk report

#AceDailyNews says according to MailOnline (Australia) Reports; Gladys Berejiklian, leader is regretting Kyle and Jackie O, Ben Fordham interviews, this is despite having changed her door locks after they split up as he had a key that had not been returned.

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured top right) is being questioned at ICAC by counsel assisting Scott Robertson (pictured top left)

Gladys Berejiklian breaks her silence as she arrives at ICAC

It comes after a stressed looking former premier arrived for her highly anticipated appearance at the corruption inquiry into her secret love affair with Daryl Maguire. 

Ms Berejiklian said that she did not ask Mr Maguire to return the key to her house that she had given him. But she has since changed her locks.  

ICAC Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl, SC, who is presiding over the inquiry, interrupted Ms Berejiklian’s evidence at one point to say: ‘Could I ask you to answer the question and not make speeches?’

Within a minute Ms McColl interrupted again to say ‘Ms Berejiklian, I do not think you are heeding the message I just communicated to you.’

‘I appreciate that. Thank you,’ Ms Berejiklian replied. 

When Ms Berejiklian briefly had difficulty with a screen before her, Mr Robertson intervened to fix it. ‘Counsel assisting and IT support apparently,’ he said. 

A stressed-looking Gladys Berejiklian arrived at the ICAC on Friday morning - breaking her silence outside court

Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian about her understanding of proceedings.  

‘Are you having some difficulty with my questions? I am trying to frame them in a precise way as well so you can answer them yes or no.

‘Are you having some difficulty understanding my questions,’ he asked.

Ms Berejiklian replied: ‘Mr Robertson, I’m just concerned that you are skewing the fact that all of my colleagues rightfully deserve my attention and my advocacy and my support for things that mattered in their communities.’ 

‘Skewing or not, you understand that your role as a witness is to direct yourself to the questions that are being asked, you understand that?’ Mr Robertson responded.

‘Yes, I do,’ she replied. 

‘You have senior counsel to represent you who have an opportunity to ask for clarification. You understand that, don’t you?’

‘I do, yes.’

Outside the hearing, Ms Berejiklian said she would tell the Independent Commission Against Corruption she will ‘strenuously stress’ that she has always put the interests and her ‘love and support’ for the people of NSW first. 

Her day at ICAC has finally come – after six months of private hearings, two weeks of public hearings and 500 pieces of evidence.

Speaking to the media, she thanked the public ‘for the amazing support’ 

‘It’s been very very deeply appreciated at a very difficult month. I’m looking forward to fulfilling my obligations and appearing before this inquiry. 

‘I will strenuously stress again – as I have every day of my life in public office – my love and support for the people of this great state has always been the forefront of any decisions I’ve made in public life.’ 

Gladys Berejiklian reveals that the drama has made her more human

Ms Berejiklian said she had not been listening to proceedings at ICAC over the past two weeks. 

‘All I will say is my love and passion for everything that is great about New South Wales remains the case. I’ve been buoyed by the public support I’ve seen. Every decision I’ve taken in public life has always been in the public’s best interests, and the interests of the people of this state.’ 

But she will be regretting having spoken so openly last year about her ‘close personal relationship’ with Daryl Maguire a year ago after she admitted the disgraced MP was her secret boyfriend at a previous Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. 

Shortly after shocking the state with her revelation, the then-NSW Premier seemingly spoke candidly about her doomed love affair with Mr Maguire with 2GB’s Ben Fordham, radio presenters Kyle and Jackie O and Sunday Telegraph gossip columnist Annette Sharp. 

Gladys Berejiklian gave selected media interviews after admitting her secret relationship with Daryl Maguire at a previous ICAC hearing

The interviews appeared to engender public sympathy for Ms Berejiklian – but they came back to bite her on Thursday when the counsel assisting the ICAC, Scott Robertson, threw them back in her face with devastating results.   

On Thursday morning, Ms Berejiklian’s legal team launched a last ditch application to have evidence from Mr Maguire kept private at the corruption inquiry into the former premier. 

Sophie Callan, a barrister acting for Ms Berejiklian, told Ms McColl that ‘hallmarks or indications at the level of commitment’ in the relationship with Mr Maguire should not be aired publicly. 

ICAC counsel Scott Robertson said the application should be refused. ‘A public inquiry is to be held in public,’ he said. 

He added that having a private session would risk it ‘becoming a public inquiry in name only’.

Mr Robertson argued that the hearing should be able to publicly delve into the nature of the relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire because the former premier openly gave interviews to the press after a previous ICAC hearing a year ago about how she planned to marry him.  

Daryl Maguire, the former secret boyfriend of Gladys Berejiklian, said the couple talked about getting married and having a baby

Gladys Berejiklian (centre) with Kyle (right) and Jackie O (left) of KISS FM

What Gladys Berejiklian said before outside ICAC on Friday morning

‘Can I just say good morning everybody. Thank you for the amazing support the public has given to me. It’s been very very deeply appreciated at a very difficult month. 

‘I’m looking forward to fulfilling my obligations and appearing before this inquiry. 

‘I will strenuously stress again – as I have every day of my life in public office – my love and support for the people of this great state has always been the forefront of any decisions I’ve made in public life. 

‘I haven’t been listening to proceedings. 

‘All I will say is my love and passion for everything that is great about New South Wales remains the case. I’ve been buoyed by the public support I’ve seen. 

‘Every decision I’ve taken in public life has always been in the public’s best interests, and the interests of the people of this state. 

Ms Berejiklian told the Kyle and Jackie O radio show that while revealing details about her personal relationship had been ‘humiliating and embarrassing’, it had made her feel ‘more human’.

‘I’m actually starting to feel even stronger after it all… It’s made me feel more human and vulnerable than I’ve ever felt before,’ she told the breakfast show hosts.

Responding to Sandilands’ question about whether she had ever ‘dabbled’ in a same sex relationship, Ms Berejiklian said: ‘I haven’t and I didn’t. Not that there is anything wrong with that.’

Sandilands said he understood why she’d want to keep the relationship private, given ‘secret sex is the best sex’, but the premier was hesitant to comment on the intimate details of her former relationship.

Ms Berejiklian told 2GB’s Ben Fordham she lacked experience in intimate relationships after dedicating so much of her life to politics.

‘It’s fair to say that on average I would probably have less experience than the average person, but that’s an excruciating thing to talk about,’ she said.

‘I’ve always been focused on my job and my work and my family and I haven’t really had time for a lot else to be honest…

‘It wasn’t a normal relationship, he wasn’t my boyfriend. I certainly hoped he would be, but it wasn’t sufficiently substantial. I didn’t want to introduce anyone to my close network unless I knew,’ she said.

‘I was certainly in love with him… but no, he wasn’t my boyfriend.’

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian's day at ICAC has finally come

Ms Berejiklian told the Sunday Telegraph that ‘I’m still trying to process it. I feel like it’s someone else living this … It’s like I’m the main protagonist in a movie. It’s like I’m the feature and the film is going to end and my life is going to go back to normal but it will never be normal again.’ 

‘It was hard to define because it wasn’t of a sufficient status,’ she says ambiguously. ‘It wasn’t a traditional type of relationship.’

In a general press conference, she said ‘Without question I stuffed up in my personal life and I accept that. 

‘It’s very difficult for someone in my position to have a private and personal life and I’m very upset at what has transpired. But I want to make this assurance to the people of New South Wales I have always put the public first.’ 

She added: ‘I want to state at the outset that had I known then what I know now clearly I would not have made those personal decisions that I did. 

‘I trusted someone that I’d known for a long time and I feel really – really let down. I trusted him for a long time.’ 

There was little ambiguity at ICAC yesterday, when Mr Maguire gave evidence that he and the then premier had discussed getting married and having a child.  

Perhaps if Ms Berejiklian had left her words at ICAC speak for themselves and not done media interviews afterwards in an attempt to save her job as NSW premier, the public might not have found out yesterday just how close and personal her relationship with Mr Maguire actually was.

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Oct.30: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) Crown Casino Report: The untold story of five casino inspectors who knew Crown’s dirty secrets but say they were stonewalled and silenced #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.08: Parked beneath the concrete overpass leading into Melbourne’s Crown Casino, he scans the seedy patch of the city between him and the casino, as the echoes of passing cars ricochet overhead.

AUSTRALIA: Crown Casino’s power concerned these gambling inspectors. Now they’re speaking out and old gaming inspector’s badge sits inside Peter “Macca” McCormack’s wallet. The accompanying photo ID is stamped with faint blue letters: “Retired” according to 4Corners

The faces of five men, and chips on a casino table, in separate rectangles spaced apart.
Five former casino inspectors from Victoria’s independent gambling regulator.

But old habits die hard ? ….As inspectors, we believed our role was to keep the casino crime-free,” he says.

Images in separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Peter in a car, his inspector badge, a CCTV camera, and a laneway.
Former VCGLR casino inspector Peter McCormack.(Four Corners)

His eyes dart as he surveys the scenes that play out before him; a group of cleaners bundle out of a visibly unroadworthy car, a momentarily unaccompanied child is reunited with her mother, and a petty thief and regular patron at Crown is spotted passing by in the rear-view mirror.

This is a spot he would come to before he began his shifts at the casino, during his 30-odd years as a senior inspector and team leader for Victoria’s independent gambling watchdog.

“We would walk the gaming floor, we would always be dressed in corporate clothing,” he says.

“All the dealers and the pit bosses, they knew who we were.”

Inspectors work for the regulator and are supposed to have oversight of the casino — one of their most important functions is to keep out criminal influence and infiltration.

While Peter’s eye for detail served him well to observe criminal activity, he says he was told by management it was not their responsibility to act on it.

Play Video. Duration: 26 seconds
Drone vision of casino

“I would often see loan sharking, in the gaming pits,” he says.

“We were told, ‘That’s not our problem, that’s a police matter,’ or, ‘It’s Crown’s problem if there’s loan sharking.’

“I had drug deals happen right in front of me, where a little plastic bag of powder and the money’s exchanged right in front of me.

“But again, we were told, ‘No, it’s a police matter, not our matter.’

“A lot of the things that we would report up the chain of any sort of criminal activity, just disappeared into oblivion, we never heard of anything further about it.”

Over the years, inspectors say they lost access to parts of the casino, were shadowed by Crown staff in high-roller rooms, and felt their presence was unwelcome.

“I felt that Crown were running our office. When they wanted things changed, things got changed,” he says.

“We’d be told off by a manager for doing our job, because Crown had complained about what we had been doing on the gaming floor, who we might’ve spoken to, or how we dealt with it.”

Peter is one of five former inspectors now speaking out for the first time.

Images in separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Peter standing under a bridge, and Crown sign surrounded by graffiti.
One of the regulator’s most important functions is to keep out criminal influence and infiltration.(Four Corners)

He says they feared if they told the media what was happening they’d be fined or fired.

“I haven’t got a job to lose anymore, so I’m not worried.” Peter says.

As Crown casino became engulfed by scandals revealing mass money laundering and the pursuit of commercial relationships with a parade of organised crime figures, these men watched on as the dirty secrets they’d been forced to keep unravelled.

They’ve told Four Corners their roles at the casino were constantly undermined as the watchdog they worked for gave Crown what it wanted again and again.

Tick and flick

One of the inspectors on Peter’s team was former Victoria Police officer Danny Lakasas.

Danny says he once ran a 12-month operation to track the use of counterfeit notes at the casino — methodically tracking dates, times and gaming table numbers, as well as who the dealers and patrons were.

He says when he compiled what he’d found and passed it up the chain, nothing happened.

Two images broken into separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Danny's face staring and Danny from behind leaning on a balcony.
Former casino inspector Danny Lakasas(Four Corners)

“Somebody from intel came down then, took all the information, said, ‘Thanks very much.’ That was the last I heard of it,” he says.

“You get disheartened after a while, and you start thinking, well, why am I busting my backside in doing all this work when it’s not going to go anywhere and nothing’s going to happen?”

Danny and Peter were employed by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).

It was formed in 2012 when the then-Liberal state government merged the gaming and liquor authorities – saying it would increase efficiency.

Inspectors on the ground say it created chaos. Budgets and staff numbers were cut by 30 per cent.

Experienced gaming inspectors were routinely called away from the gaming floor to conduct liquor licence checks at cafes, bars and restaurants.

“It was a takeover by liquor, clearly. There seemed to be a directive from above, whether that was at state government level, to focus in on liquor activities,” says Rod Walker, another former Victorian gaming inspector.

Rod says the liquor inspections became “tick and flick events, just so that you could reach your KPIs”.

Two images broken into separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Rod in a colourfully lit alley, and poker machines.
Rod Walker saw how the merger took inspectors away from the gaming floor.(Four Corners/Unsplash)

The inspectors’ reaction to the new policy was visceral.

“Whoever invented the word KPIs, in my opinion, should be shot,” Peter says.

“Morale went down considerably. They weren’t interested in doing proper investigations, it was all tick and flick.

“What I wanted to do was investigate proper crime.”

Peter says there were many shifts where the casino had no inspector at all.

“That’s still happening,” he says.

“It is in the legislation that we must have casino inspectors there all the time.”

As the regulator was undergoing this upheaval, James Packer ramped up Crown’s aggressive expansion into the Chinese high-roller market.

VIP gamblers were brought into Melbourne by third party agents known as junket operators.

To Danny, the casino suddenly became more vulnerable to organised crime.

“What changed then with the junkets coming in was the amount of Chinese people coming in, having their own rooms, and gambling basically millions of dollars,” Danny says.

Two images broken into separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Danny's face staring and two playing cards an ace and a king.
The potential for junkets to bring in criminal activity concerned Danny.(Four Corners)

“What we saw was a lot of money change hands.

“I don’t know where this money came from, or how it was accounted for, or whether the state was receiving their cut of taxes at that time, because it was all mainly cash.”

Opening the door to money laundering

Crown had an ace up its sleeve.

Years earlier, in 2004, the state government had given the casino the power to approve the same junket operators that it would end up making hundreds of millions of dollars from.

The former head of the regulator, Peter Cohen, has told Four Corners it was his idea to hand over the power to Crown.

“The idea at the time was that Crown actually had more resources than we had to undertake due diligence checks. They could engage private investigators,” Mr Cohen says.

The regulator’s job was to audit the process to ensure Crown was adequately assessing the junket operators.

“Like Ronald Reagan would say, ‘Trust, but verify,'” Mr Cohen says.

Barry McGann, who was a gaming inspector from 2007 to 2018, says this was a key moment that opened the door to money laundering.

“For the commission to give up their powers to allow Crown to approve their own junket operations, in my opinion, was a mistake,” Barry says.

The inspectors still had the ability to audit junket operators and the VIP players Crown flew into Melbourne, but the regulator had to rely on the casino to provide accurate and extensive information for any background checks.

“I’d order the report. If there were any players there that [Crown] didn’t want me to see, there was nothing stopping them from wiping them out, or taking it off the database. I’d be none the wiser,” Barry says.

Images in separate spaced-apart rectangles showing Barry staring while standing in a field, and in silhouette on his phone.
Barry McGann has now retired as a gaming inspector and lives in regional Victoria.(Four Corners)

Because of the lack of access to independent information, Barry says “it would be hard to associate [the players] with any illegal play or triads”.

The junket audits were also rarely done.

From late 2013, audits stopped for close to a year, until a Four Corners program exposed that Crown Melbourne was dealing with junket operators linked to criminal syndicates.

After the story ran, Danny Lakasas says he received a panicked phone call from management asking to see the latest junket audit.

“I said, ‘Well, there hasn’t been an audit done for probably six to 12 months.’ When they said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because we were told not to do any audits, because they were being reviewed.'”

Crown was not only approving these junket operators, some of whom had links to organised crime, but the regulator was doing little to scrutinise the individuals who were coming in and gambling hundreds of millions of dollars in the casino’s private rooms.

The one ‘banned’ high roller

Terry McCabe understands better than most how the fear of punishment can be a strong motivating force for compliance.

Before becoming a gaming inspector in 2004 he was a senior detective in Victoria Police’s Arson Squad.

Play Video. Duration: 27 seconds
Casino inspector(Four Corners)

“For a regulator to be completely effective, there needs to be a climate of likely being caught out, likely being exposed. [While I was there] I’m not sure that that risk really existed,” Terry says.

Crown pays the Victorian government over $200 million a year in taxes, and Terry believes this ends up influencing how the state-based regulator operates.

“Governments all around the world are addicted to gambling as much as many patrons are, and regulation of a casino is extremely difficult against that background.”

Terry noticed the growing frustration amongst inspectors who felt they were not able to properly hold Crown to account.

“The troops worked hard. Many of the troops were among the original casino inspectorate and had done a lot of great work, but it didn’t come as any surprise that, when that good work was done, it would amount to very little.”

“The disappointment became disenchantment and disenchantment became, not disinterest, but, ‘Here we go again.'”

Short of cancelling a casino’s licence, one of the strongest powers at the regulator’s disposal is the ability to force the casino to cease a relationship with one of its players or junket operators.

The VCGLR has only used this power once, despite a series of connections that have been identified between junket operators and organised crime syndicates.

The one case where the regulator used this power was with high-roller Richard Yong, who was convicted of illegal bookmaking after an undercover FBI sting at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 2014.

But Four Corners has revealed that after the regulator twice wrote to Crown ordering it to cease dealing with Yong, the casino resisted and continued to deal with him.

A composite image of two men, both hold microphones. One man smiles, the other wears a hat.
Ultra-wealthy high-rollers Richard Yong (left) and Paul Phua (right).

The regulator also had concerns about one of Yong’s close associates who was also a VIP client at Crown, Paul Phua – a well-known Malaysian poker player and unregulated bookmaker. He is also alleged to be a high-ranking member of the 14K triad.

The regulator dropped its pursuit of Phua, claiming it had “insufficient evidence” to order Crown to cease dealing with him.

In 2016, Four Corners revealed that Victoria Police had serious concerns about Phua’s alleged links to triads and his status as a Crown VIP.

Terry McCabe is not familiar with either case, but says the casino had a reputation for pushing back against the VCGLR.

“I think Crown had a very robust legal department who were very strong and very aggressive in the way they dealt with the regulator.”

“I don’t believe in all instances we were as strong back.”

A big blue bag of cash

In 2019, frustration inside the regulator reached a tipping point.

Two whistleblowers contacted the office of independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie with evidence of suspected money laundering at Crown Melbourne.

One unnamed inspector provided footage of a young man with a cooler bag full of cash exchanging it for chips inside a room run exclusively by the junket operator Suncity.

A series of images showing large stacks of $50 notes being removed from a blue cooler bag.
A cooler bag of cash that was exchanged for chips in vision leaked to federal MP Andrew Wilkie.

“[The chips] shortly thereafter were cashed in — a very easy, quick and effective way to launder millions of dollars,” Mr Wilkie says.

“Importantly, that inspector came to me after he had tried to send that footage up the chain within the regulator and it was not acted on.”

The regulator identified the man in the vision as Chenkang Pan, a junket representative and premium player at Crown Melbourne.

While the watchdog wanted him banned, the casino refused to accept it was him because his face was blurred in the leaked video.

Crown had a copy of Pan’s photo ID and access to the dates he was in the Suncity room, but still said it wasn’t enough.

Andrew Wilkie takes issue with Crown refusing to accept the regulator’s word.

“Crown Casino is treating us like mugs. They know the big names that are in their casino. It’s part of their business model.”

Inspectors from the Victorian regulator, who were the eyes and ears in the casino, say they were not only discouraged from looking at money laundering, but actively blocked.

“We’d put it up to our manager, and our manager would put it up many times to senior management, but it fell on deaf ears,” Danny says.

‘Bad things happen when good people do nothing’

Three states have now examined Crown’s misconduct. NSW held an inquiry, while Victoria and WA have ongoing royal commissions.

But the Victorian royal commission’s terms of reference do not include a direction to examine the failings of the state-based regulator, something the former inspectors would like to see.

“I think for consistency around the country, gaming should be a federal issue. It should be regulated federally,” Terry says.

Both Crown and the regulator declined to be interviewed by Four Corners. A VCGLR spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment while the royal commission into Crown was underway.

VCGLR CEO Catherine Myers has previously made the case that criminal activity at the casino was the responsibility of other agencies such as the federal financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC has confirmed it is investigating Crown for potential breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

All five inspectors have risked speaking out so that they might see a regulator restored with sufficient power, expertise, and independence.

Danny, mostly in silhouette, sits by the window of a restaurant looking out at the street.
Danny hopes speaking out will prompt changes to the system.(Four Corners)

“So many ex-inspectors speaking up just shows that they’re concerned and that the system’s broken, and hopefully our voices are taken on board and something’s done about it,” Danny says.

Terry is hoping the risk will pay off.

“I believe bad things happen when good people do nothing. Crown puts itself out there as the world of entertainment. It sells a very dangerous product.”

“It needs close scrutiny.”

Credits

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: July.08: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com