Tuesday, 29 April 2014

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Operation Spicer - Day One running sheet

To date one NSW Premier has resigned, one NSW minister has resigned and been suspended from the Liberal Party, one NSW Liberal MLC has resigned from a parliamentary position and stood aside, two NSW MPs been suspended from the Liberal Party and one Liberal federal senator has stood down, as a result of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Credo and Operation Spicer investigations.

They are:

Barry O’Farrell - MP for Kur-ing-gai, former NSW Premier & Minister for Western Sydney until 17 April 2014
Chris Hartcher - NSW MP for Terrigal, Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for the Central Coast & Special Minister of State until 9 December 2013 and now suspended from the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW)
Marie Ficarra - Member of the NSW Legislative Council and a former parliamentary secretary until 17 April 2014
Darren Webber – MP for Wyong now suspended from the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW)
Christopher Spence – MP for The Entrance now suspended from the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW)
Arthur Sinodinis - Federal Senator for NSW and former Assistant Treasurer in the Abbott Government

UPDATE: On 2 May 2014 NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher stood aside after being named as a subject of the inquiry.

The following are some of the individuals who received mention in the opening statement by counsel assisting ICAC on the first day of Operation Spicer hearings (see transcript):

Liberal MP and then NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher

The Liberal MP. Christopher Hartcher, together with persons who worked
with him, set out to attract additional funding for the benefit of a small group
of Liberal Party candidates on the Central Cost. To pull it off, one of those
employees, Timothy Koelma, set up a business called Eightbyfive. They
then attracted payments from 40 prohibited donors who were interested in
buying favours from Mr Hartcher.

Liberal MP for Lane Cove and NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Antony Roberts

Just one example of this will suffice; Mr Hartcher was wont to holiday
aboard the Gazal’s yacht Octavia at Hamilton Island, here I’ll show it up on
the screen, here for example is a record from Mr Hartcher’s diary recording
his trip to Hamilton Island in August 2007. “Fly to Hamilton Island, Nabil”,
that’s Nabil Gazal. And there you can see that how the cabins were
distributed, four cabins. Nabil’s got the master cabin, Mr Hartcher the VIP,
Anthony, we believe that’s Anthony Roberts the current Minister,
Anthony’s got a side cabin, there’s a junior cabin for kids, there’s a bit of a
blow there because they need a chef, et cetera et cetera. We tried to check
on who paid for the flights and the like but the records unfortunately were
long gone.

Sebastian Reed nephew of former of NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher
The Hartcher Reed Affair; small in size but serious in principal.
Christopher Hartcher got control of $4000 in donations which had to be
laundered before they could be used. To do so he dragged a respected firm
of solicitors and his own nephew unwittingly into an illicit enterprise and
into a misuse of a trust account.

Paul Nicolaou NSW Liberal Party fundraiser

On 27 February, 2010, Mr Nicolaou  wrote a letter to Alan Jones with the
apparent purpose of encouraging him to use his radio program to denounce
Sydney Water and traduce Dr Schott. Mr Nicolaou wrote to Mr Jones on
the letterhead of the Millennium Forum and the Millennium Forum is the
fundraising arm of the New South Wales Liberal Party…..
Commissioner, this was serious stuff. I’ll show some more transcript from
Mr Nicolaou’s evidence. It was very serious stuff and Mr Nicolaou agreed.
Question, “Based on what I’m saying”, I really regret reading this out
incidentally, Commissioner, Dr Schott has been warned that these awful
things could be said about her and I regret having to repeat them, I do so, I
want to preface it by saying this Dr Schott was shown to be absolutely and
utterly incorruptible but anyway I’ll go on it needs to be done. Based upon
what I’m saying, this is the question, “I’m reading to you your own words,
based upon what you said you were alleging Dr Schott was a based corrupt
criminal weren’t you?”, answer, “Based on the email that I sent, yes”,
question, “And you did that without any regard as to whether it was an
accurate complaint didn’t you?”, answer, “Yes”, question, “And you did it
in the hope that this fellow Jones would blurt it out all over this radio
program didn’t you?”, answer, “Yes”, question, “The objective was to
humiliate Schott and her senior executive team publicly wasn’t it?”, answer,

Liberal Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly Marie Ficarra

Marie Ficarra solicited a donation from the property developer, Tony Merhi,
knowing that Mr Merhi was a prohibited donor. Both knew what they were
doing was wrong. The same evidence will show that Ms Ficarra was
complicit in the Eightbyfive scheme.

Tim Koelma Liberal Party Member and former staffer to then NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher
Commencing from April 2009, Australian Water Holdings paid a monthly
retainer to Eightbyfive. The payments continued until May 2011 and in all
around $183,000 was paid to Eightbyfive. The invoices submitted by
Eightbyfive to Australian Water Holdings describe the services as,
“Products and services as stipulated in service level agreement.” Whatever
that means.
Apart from the issue as to whether Mr Koelma had the skills and experience
necessary to provide anything of value, there is a deeper question as to why
it was necessary for Australian Water Holdings to purchase those services at
all, after all it had a barrage of lobbyists on retainer already and its board
included Liberal Party heavies such as Mr Di Girolamo and Arthur
And there’s yet another twist here. You’ll recall I mentioned this earlier –
Gazcorp resumed making payments to Eightbyfive from September 2011
until April 2012, this time in monthly amounts of $2,000, in all about
$16,000 was paid. Now, this is disturbing because Mr Koelma had resumed
work in the Ministerial office of Mr Hartcher and there is no way that he
should have been involved in any Government relations activities at that
time. Of course his subcontractors had gone on to bigger and better things,
 they were both elected to Parliament. Mr Koelma had no subcontractors so
he attempted to explain away these payments by suggesting that his wife,
Tennille Koelma, was providing the services, but unfortunately for Mr
Koelma, we’ve spoken to Mrs Koelma and she denied that.

Timothy Trumbull accountant

It all stems from some donations made by an unusual character, Timothy
Trumbull, an avid anti-socialist accountant. A number of donations tallying
$4,000 emanated from him. The donations were made by women he
employed. Mr Trumbull told us that this was because his staff were so
troubled by the socialist Labor Government in Canberra that they wanted to
make contributions to the New South Wales Liberal Party.
Well, this was all nonsense. We spoke to Mr Trumbull’s staff and we will
tender transcripts of their evidence. They deny being politically motivated.
In fact each of them I think from recollection was from overseas and none
of them even had a right to vote. They didn’t know there was a difference
between Labor or Liberal. Each of them says that Mr Trumbull organised
the whole thing and its transparent what the, what Mr Trumbull did was just
done to avoid the $5,000 cap which had been placed upon individual
donors. We can prove that Mr Trumbull had already reached his limit but
he wanted to give more. That’s all back story, it’s only where the story
starts. The donations were made bank cheques. Although the cheques were
drawn on 16 March, 2011 they seem to have lain dormant for some time.
On 17 November, 2011 the bank cheques were deposited into the trust
account of the firm of solicitors Hartcher Reid. I’ll just put that up on the
screen so that you can see it. This is a deposit slip that we’ve been able to
recover from the Westpac Bank, the branch in Martin Place, a three minute
walk from Parliament House. You can see up in the top left-hand side
where it says “Paid in by” that the identity of the person who made the
deposit has been rendered illegible. Commissioner, you might think that
that was deliberate. At first we wondered how bank cheques made out to
the Liberal Party of New South Wales could be banked to the credit of
Hartcher Reid but we were told that there was an arrangement under which
such cheques can be deposited into a solicitor’s trust account.

Darren Williams co-founder and director of Buildev

When Mr Williams pursued the payment, he did not speak of services
provided by Mr Koelma or services providing of Eightbyfive, I’ll just
show you who he referred to. This is a message that Mr Darren Williams
from Buildev sent to Troy Palmer. Up the top, “Mate, Libs are chasing me
up, mate. I don’t want to burn them, can you call them?” Commissioner,
at the end of this inquiry we will urge you to find that this was not a
transaction with Eightbyfive, it was a transaction with the Libs, it was
a payment which was being made to the Liberal Party.

Troy Palmer Chief Financial Officer of the Tinkler Group

On 19 April, 2013, Mr Palmer sent Mr Williams an SMS text message
and you can see it there. “Have you got Eightbyfive under control?
We can’t have Patinack involved in an ICAC hearing.”

Nabil Gazal, Nabil Gazal Jnr. and Nicholas Gazal

The Gazal family and Orange Grove; another major developer drawn into 
the Eightbyfive scheme was Gazcorp Pty Limited a company owned and 
controlled by the Gazal family who developed the controversial Orange 
Grove Shopping Centre. Over time Gazcorp paid $137,000 for fake 
services invoiced by Eightbyfive. 

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