Former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire thought he’d “hit the jackpot” when he was told about an upcoming mining conference because he planned to set up an oil project to fund his retirement, phone taps played to his corruption inquiry have heard.
It came as his associate Maggie Wang admitted she lied about a dodgy visa scheme for Chinese immigrants by claiming it was a legitimate training program when hauled before a private Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing in 2018.
ICAC is investigating whether Mr Maguire used his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain benefit for himself and others close to him between 2012 and when he stood down 2018.
The 61-year-old is set to front the inquiry on Wednesday, just two days after it was revealed he was in a “close, personal relationship” with Premier Gladys Berejiklian for five years from 2015.
Ms Wang is on Tuesday facing questions over her business dealings with Mr Maguire while he was the Wagga Wagga MP.
She confirmed they had discussed a scheme to bring oil technology to Australia at a time he was “talking about retirement,” and had agreed to share the profits if successful.
In an intercepted phone call from March 2018 played on Tuesday, Mr Maguire told Ms Wang he had spoken with NSW Minerals Council chief executive Steve Galilee about an industry conference in Adelaide.
“I’ve hit the jackpot. Steve Galilee rang me back,” he said, informing her about the meeting.
“These are all the oil miners … from Australia and across the world. They’re all coming there.”
In the call Mr Maguire refers to Ms Wang organising a meeting with oil company Santos, and also to “these people who are making inquiries”.
“I reckon they should go to the conference and you go with them,” he said.
“Get them some kind of an agreement and get them to the conference.”
He goes on to advise Ms Wang that she should ask for a consultancy fee from Santos, as well as ongoing payments through shares or percentages from extracting oil.
“When you’re talking oil you’re talking big money,” he said. “We’ll do like we always do. We’re like brothers and sisters.”
Counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson asked Ms Wang if that meant she and Mr Maguire had split the profits on other projects in the past.
“No never,” she replied.
But Ms Wang did admit she lied about an immigration scheme allegedly run in consultation with Mr Maguire before a secret ICAC hearing in 2018.
Immigration agent Ms Wang ran a cash for visas scheme, which gave tens of thousands of dollars to three Riverina Businessmen for them to employ Chinese workers that never turned up for the job.
Counsel assisting the commission Stuart Robertson asked Ms Wang if she gave a series of false answers that “sought to say to this commission that it was a legit scheme”.
“Yes,” she replied.
Ms Wang on Tuesday confessed that after the October 2018 hearing she visited two of the men who had taken payments from the scheme – Shaun Duffy and Angus McLaren – to discourage them from giving evidence that would implicate her in the investigation.
“I feel panicked,” she said trying to explain her actions.
Phone taps from 2017 also played on Tuesday revealed Mr Maguire was worried a Chinese businessman was “f**king around” as they attempted to secure a deal to invest in a major project in Samoa.
Ms Wang was at the time a secretary for the Shenzhen Asia Pacific Commercial Development Association – for which Mr Li was chair and Mr Maguire an honorary chair.
She acted as a go-between linking the two men.
Ms Wang said the former MP drafted a letter in 2017 he hoped would be signed by a Samoan government official to help push the deal through, as Mr Li believed he needed high-level correspondence in order to invest overseas.
The commission heard Mr Li had planned to invest in a casino license in the capital Apia, before turning his attention to a market proposal in the city after identifying an abandoned warehouse.
But he needed approval from the Shenzhen regional government, which the corruption watch dog heard wasn’t convinced by a letter from the Samoan Chamber of Commerce Ms Wang retrieved from its chief executive Hobart Va’ai.
Ms Wang said Mr Li told her he needed a letter showing the support of the Samoan government instead.
In one phone recording from August 2017, Mr Maguire can be heard telling Ms Wang they needed to get Mr Li’s issue “fixed”.
“I think Li’s gonna f**k around. Li is f**king around,” he said.
“He‘s expecting people to do things that they’re not authorised to do … We need to get this letter problem fixed for Li.”
Ms Maguire at the time chaired the NSW Parliament Asia Pacific Friendship Group (APFG).
ICAC is investigating whether he used his position at the APFG and the “diplomatic connections with which it provided him to further the commercial interests“ of the Shenzhen Asia Pacific Commercial Development Association.
Counsel assisting the commission asked Ms Wang whether the deal eventually went through, to which she replied: “not to my knowledge”.