Saturday, 24 May 2014

Abbott Government ends week as it began - badly

The suspected Mafia godfather of Melbourne helped bankroll a Liberal Party marginal federal seat campaign in the 2013 election, raising the prospect that the proceeds of crime have flowed into Liberal coffers.
The alleged crime figure's fundraising occurred despite Liberal politicians knowing of his suspected involvement in organised crime and in a previous political donation scandal investigated by federal police.
A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal the alleged Mafia boss helped host the "Bruce Campaign Fundraising Dinner", which a Liberal Party memo later described as a "very successful" event, at his Docklands reception centre on March 1 last year.
Federal Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, who has known about the donor's alleged crime ties for several years having been implicated in the 2009 donations scandal, was at the Docklands event with the suspected Mafia boss. The guest speaker at the event was Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
Also at the fund-raiser was Liberal candidate for Bruce Emanuele Cicchiello, long-time Liberal operative and former Bass Coast mayor Neville Goodwin and state Liberal MP for Hastings Neale Burgess…..
Liberal sources confirmed that hire of Waterfront Venues Melbourne was donated by the alleged Mafia boss for the $250-a-head dinner. Food and drink was also heavily subsidised. Expensive items were also auctioned off at the event, including a helicopter ride for two and a dinner.
No specific records of the fund-raiser have been lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, with Liberal sources saying the individual donations made as part of the event were under the $12,100 disclosure threshold.
Despite being the subject of numerous organised crime probes, the alleged mob boss has never been charged with a criminal offence and denies any involvement in organised crime or political bribery. The federal police bribery probe was closed after gathering insufficient evidence.
The revelations come as the Independent Commission Against Corruption probes donations by colourful business identities to Liberal politicians in NSW…..
The suspected Mafia boss has a business empire spanning Victoria, including stalls at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market, property developments, supermarkets and involvement in the nationwide La Porchetta pizza chain. He has also had dealings with NSW Liberal Party donors, including real estate agent Pat Sergi. Mr Sergi, named in a 1979 royal commission as a money launderer for the Mafia, was recently called as a witness at the NSW ICAC hearings into Liberal Party fund-raising.

Read the rest of the article here.

The West Australian 23 May 2914:

Tony Abbott has failed to declare a set of high-tech cycling gears worth about $3000 given to him by the Japanese Prime Minister.
When in Japan last month, Mr Abbott - a well-known cycling fanatic - was given Shimano Dura-Ace electric gears by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The gears are used by the world's elite road racers, including Tour de France winner Cadel Evans.
Under parliamentary rules, MPs must declare within 28 days all gifts from "official sources" valued at more than $750. Should they keep the gift, they must pay the difference....

UPDATE Saturday 24 May 2014

The Daily Telegraph 24 May 2014:

SENATOR Arthur Sinodinos’s knowledge of Australian Water Holdings’ donations to the Liberal Party has been called into question after a tendered email showed he knocked back a seat at an AWH table to a Malcolm Turnbull fundraising event.
The Liberal senator has stood aside as federal assistant treasurer pending ICAC inquiries into his role as deputy chair and chair of AWH, which is accused of using Sydney Water bill money improperly on political donations, limousines and a corporate box at the football.
When it came to his knowledge of the political donations, ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham asked Mr Sinodinos on the stand in April: “Were you aware donations were being made?”
Mr Sinodinos replied: “No, no, no ... it wasn’t a matter ... discussed at board level.”
Counsel Assisting Geoffrey Watson, SC, later asked: “Did you know at the Liberal Party in your capacity as treasurer that Australian Water Holdings was making donations to the Liberal Party?”
Mr Sinodinos replied: “Not that I can recollect.”
But documents tendered by Mr Sinodinos’s own counsel to ICAC as Operation Spicer rose on Tuesday show Mr Sinodinos was told about one financial contribution AWH made to the Liberal Party.
Tendered emails show Mr Sinodinos was invited to a fundraiser booked by AWH in May 2009, when he was deputy chair of the company.
“Dear Arthur …” says the email to Mr Sinodinos from Mr Di Girolamo’s assistant, “… AWH has taken a table at the 2009 Federal Budget Reply Luncheon and Nick would be delighted if you could attend as his guest.”
The function was on Friday May 15, 2009 for pre-lunch drinks and lunch.

Mr Sinodinos’s PA responded: “Arthur is already attending the event as MC and at this stage is committed elsewhere. Apologies.”.....

No comments: