A bombshell email between executives from miner Nathan Tinkler’s property development company, Buildev, has implicated NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher in illegal donations to the Liberal Party, the independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has heard.
The June 2010 email exchange between Darren Williams and David Sharpe, with the subject line “Which entity will I give mike gallacher?” is purportedly part of a plan to create a slush fund company known as EightbyFive for illegal donations. ICAC has been looking into the involvement of former Liberal minister Chris Hartcher, but their investigation is increasingly snaring current and former Liberal and Labor MPs.
Tinkler was trying to build a billion-dollar coal terminal on the former BHP site in Newcastle, but donations to political parties from property developers were banned in 2009.
In response to the email question from Darren Williams, Buildev’s development manager, general manager David Sharpe wrote back: “Ask Nathan as I think it’s best to come through patnack [sic – Patinack Farm, Tinkler’s horse stud] get right away from property minning [sic] infrastructure.”
The documents, which emerged overnight, place the Police Minister at the centre of the scandal which has already seen three Central Coast Liberal MPs, former energy minister Chris Hartcher, and Darren Webber and Chris Spence, suspended from the party, while another MP, Marie Ficarra, stood aside this week after being implicated in soliciting illegal donations.
The ICAC also has records of numerous meetings and phone calls between Hartcher, Gallacher and Williams.
During questioning this morning, Williams said he knew Gallacher well, but “couldn’t recall” the email in question. He denied that both he and Gallacher were involved in any illegal donations scheme.
Counsel assisting the ICAC, Geoffrey Watson said to Williams “The truth is you had a corrupt and long standing connection to Mike Gallacher, through him you hatched a corrupt plan”.
During intense questioning from Watson, the Buildev executive said he believed Eightbyfive was simply a marketing company, but conceded he knew Hartcher would benefit from the funds.
Watson estimated that during questioning, Williams said “I don’t recall” around 50 times.
These latest corruption claims will undoubtedly lead to calls for the police minister to step down and place further pressure on the leadership team of new premier Mike Baird.
Gallacher is also the Minister for Emergency Services, Industrial Relations, the Central Coast, and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.
Yesterday, the ICAC heard that ALP MPs plotted against Newcastle MP Jodi McKay after she refused to accept illegal donations from Tinkler and did not back his plan for the terminal.
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