The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) into the use of slush funds by political parties in NSW will adjourn next week after new documents obtained by the corruption watchdog implicated former NSW police minister Mike Gallacher in alleged “serious electoral funding irregularities”.
Operation Spicer, an investigation into the use of illegal donations from developers by Central Coast MPs, including former energy minister Chris Hartcher, as well as failed mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, will continue for the rest of the week, with Nick Di Girolamo, the Liberal Party fundraiser whose bottle of Grange ended Barry O’Farrell’s premiership, due to give evidence, along with key staff from Hartcher’s office.
Gallacher resigned last week after allegations emerged in ICAC that he was involved in a scheme to hide illegal donations from a company owned by Tinkler.
This morning counsel assisting the ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, asked for hearings to be suspended so there is time to investigate the new material.
He said “We have sworn testimony from a reliable person implicating Michael Gallacher”.
The application led to heated exchanges between Watson and barristers representing federal Senator Arthur Sinodinos and Gallacher. They opposed the delay saying it left serious allegations hanging over their clients’ heads unchallenged. The suspension may last until August and delay any findings until the end of 2014, just three months before the next state election.
Commissioner Megan Latham said the time taken to obtain financial records from banks was one of the reasons why a suspension was needed.
Some witnesses may also be recalled once further investigations are complete.
Barrister Alister Henskens, SC, representing Hartcher, rounded on the media covering ICAC, including Kate McClymont, the Sydney Morning Herald journalist who broke the allegations against his client, describing her as “clairvoyant”, also accusing ICAC officials of leaking to the media.
McClymont has the details of the latest twists in the investigation here.
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