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Sam Dastyari to appear before ICAC Labor/Chinese donations enquiry

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Here's an extract from today's ICAC public hearing - Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson speaking:

A review of NSW Labor and Country Labor disclosures for the year ended 30 June, 2015 indicates that $100,000 was disclosed to have been received from 12 donors, most of whom were said to have donated $5,000 in cash to NSW Labor, and a further $5,000 in cash to Country Labor. At the relevant time $5,700 was the applicable cap on donations to a political party under New South Wales electoral law.

Further investigations by the Electoral Commission revealed that the majority of the putative donors, that is the majority of the 12 donors I’ve just identified a moment ago, were persons associated with Jonathan Yee, who as I indicated a moment ago was the General Manager of Emperor’s Garden Restaurant in Chinatown. Five of the putative donors were employees or former employees of Emperor’s Garden: Johnnie Lin, Lei Mo, Wei Shi, Patricia Siu, and Teresa Tam. A further two were family members of Mr Yee – his mother, May Ho Ye, and his brother, Valentine Yee – one was Emperor’s Garden Pty Ltd and one was Jonathan Yee himself.

Those associations, along with the implausibility that restaurant workers would have the financial capacity to make lump sum donations of $5,000 or $10,000, as well as other factors, led the Electoral Commission to suspect that the $100,000 in cash was donated on behalf of a person or persons other than those who appeared on the NSW Labor and Country Labor disclosures.

Also of concern to the Electoral Commission was the fact that two donations were disclosed as having been made by persons associated with Wu International Investments Pty Ltd, namely Mr Quanbao Liao, who is also known as Leo Liao, and Mr Steve Tong. Wu International is a property development company based in Chatswood and property developers are prohibited donors under New South Wales electoral law and they were so prohibited at the time of the supposed donations in 2015.

.....during an interview with Kenrick Cheah, the Community Relations Director of NSW Labor, Mr Cheah stated that Mr Huang Xiangmo attended New South Wales head office a few weeks after the Chinese Friends of Labor dinner in 2015 and gave the then NSW Labor General Secretary Jamie Clements $100,000 in cash. Mr Cheah stated that after his meeting with Mr Huang, Mr Clements handed the $100,000 in cash to Mr Cheah.

At that time, Mr Huang, who is also known as Changran, was a director and chairman of Yuhu Group (Australia) Pty Ltd, a property development company. As a close associate of Yuhu Group, Mr Huang was a prohibited donor under the Electoral Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981, and therefore was prohibited from making political donations for the benefit of state political parties in New South Wales.

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Mr Huang is, however, known to have been a significant donor both of the 10 Australia Labor Party and to the Liberal Party of Australia, at least on the federal level, and sat at the head table of the Chinese Friends of Labor function on 12 March, 2015, along with then federal leader of the Australian Labor Party, Bill Shorten and then state leader Luke Foley

At its meeting on 13 December, 2017, the Electoral Commission decided to refer to this Commission, the conduct that it had investigated because it 20 considered that here were reasonable grounds to suspect that the conduct that it investigated may involve a criminal offence under the Electoral Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act.

MR ROBERTSON: For your assistance, Chief Commissioner, and for that of those behind me, can I outline in general terms the proposed program of evidence for this week, after we deal with some procedural matters, I propose to call Mr Cheah, the Community Relations Director of NSW Labor. I anticipate that my examination of him won’t finish today, but will spill over to tomorrow morning. After that, if any party wishes to apply to cross-examine Mr Cheah, that will be a convenient time to deal with that matter tomorrow. I apprehend that subject to the extent of questions of that nature, we may well finish early on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I will call Mr Steve Tong to conduct part of his examination. I deliberately underline the word “part”, and I’ll recall him probably next week for the purposes of adding to the examination that I intend to conduct on Wednesday morning. Immediately after Mr Tong I’ll call Ms Kaila Murnain, which I expect to be on Wednesday afternoon, again to examine her, and I intend to call her again during the course of next week to make her available for cross- examination by anyone who makes that application.

After Ms Murnain, I intend to call Mr Sam Dastyari. Mr Dastyari doesn’t appear on the present version of the witness list that’s been uploaded, but an amended one will be uploaded shortly. I apprehend that that will happen some time during the course of Thursday, and then after that I’ll call Mr Wong and I apprehend that there won’t be sufficient time this week to call any further witnesses after Mr Wong, but if that indication or my impressions of that change during the course of the week, I’ll let you know, Chief Commissioner, and I’ll let those behind me know as well.

ENDS.

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