Sunday, 22 September 2013

Is the net finally closing in O'Farrell Government?

On Saturday 20 September 2013 the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption raided the offices of two NSW Liberal Party MPs in relation to allegations made against NSW Resources Minister Chris Hartcher's senior staff.

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The Daily Telegraph 21 September 2013:

The offices of two Liberal MPs have been raided by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
In what is shaping to be a major scandal for the O'Farrell Government, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the offices of The Entrance MP Chris Spence and Wyong MP Darren Webber were searched by corruption investigators yesterday afternoon.
Computers and documents were seized by investigators from Mr Webber's office on the Pacific Highway at Wyong and Mr Spence's office on The Entrance Road at The Entrance.
Both MPs were contacted this morning and said they were unable to speak about the matter.
"I can't talk about what's happened," Mr Spence said.
The Sunday Telegraph understands the raids are in relation to claims of irregularities in donations to the Liberal Party on the Central Coast, which have been under investigation for more than a year.
Two staff members in the office of NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher, Ray Carter and Tim Koelma, were stood down in March last year over the allegations.
Central to the issue is a small business called Eightbyfive, set up as a discretionary family trust, which is accused of soliciting donations on behalf of state Liberal MPs and candidates.
Donors were allegedly told they could safely contribute and at the same time avoid any declaration to the Election Funding Authority.
Those involved with the trust have always denied any wrongdoing.......

Excerpts from The Sydney Morning Herald 21 September 2013:

The raids are understood to be connected to allegations that two staff of energy minister Chris Hartcher breached election funding rules before the 2011 state election.....

Records show a $5000 donation was made to the party's central coast candidates by LA Commercial Pty Ltd, a building company in Wyong, just weeks before the 2011 election.
The subsequent disclosure by the company's owner, Matthew Lusted, of the donation is understood to have alerted the party. It is believed Mr Lusted's company was asked to donate through Eightbyfive.
Mr Lusted was an unsuccessful Liberal preselection candidate for the federal seat of Dobell on the central coast, then held by the former Labor MP Craig Thomson....

Mr Hartcher's preferred candidate, Karen McNamara, was installed after intervention by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, then the opposition leader.
Ms McNamara was elected to parliament at the September 7 federal election....

Last year Mr Hartcher told parliament he was not under investigation in relation to the matter involving his two staff, but on Saturday declined to repeat the statement. ''The minister won't be making any comment,'' a spokeswoman said......

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