Daryl Maguire admitted making the comments to property developer Joseph Alha – after he requested a meeting with the Premier
Gladys Berejiklian’s former lover told a property developer to ‘come along to my office’ for a glass of red wine as ‘you’ll never know who’s going to drop in’, a corruption inquiry has heard.
That invitation from Daryl Maguire came after Joseph Alha requested a meeting with the NSW Premier and Planning Minister in a recorded phone conversation.
Maguire on Wednesday made extraordinary admissions that he conducted a ‘cash-for-visa’ scheme for Chinese nationals from his office and ‘monetised’ his position for profit.
The powerful woman he spent five years having a love affair with, Gladys Berejiklian, was only mentioned once – at the end of his first day of evidence.
In a phone tap aired at the inquiry, Mr Alha told Maguire: ‘I dunno how you’re going to do it – I think I should be privileged to one appointment … with Anthony Roberts and Gladys.
‘Can that happen or not?’
‘Dunno,’ Maguire said. ‘I’ll ask them. When do you want it?’
Alha suggested in the following week, telling Maguire he ‘just (wanted) to show them my project.’
Maguire was asked by counsel assisting Scott Robertson if he later ‘communicated (Alha) should attend on you, have a glass of red and you will never know who will drop by?’
‘Yes,’ Maguire said.
It appears a meeting with the Premier didn’t occur. However, the inquiry heard that Maguire invited Roberts’ chief of staff, Rob Vellar, down for the meeting.
Mr Alha doesn’t appear to have been aware who he was coming to meet.
But ICAC Commissioner Ruth McColl said it must have been ‘sufficiently clear’ to the developer that Maguire’s invitation had ‘something to do with his earlier request for a meeting with Minister Roberts and possibly the Premier because he brought his (property) models with him, which I presume he doesn’t cart around normally.’
Maguire replied: ‘He was aware at some point who he was going to meet — it’s so long ago but I’m clear, I’m clear that there were a number of discussions to arrange the meeting.’
The conversation was revealed during a bombshell day of evidence where Maguire admitted:
- Receiving deliveries of thousands of dollars at his parliamentary office in a ‘cash for Australian visa’ scheme for Chinese nationals
- ‘Partly’ turning his parliamentary office into the office for G8way International – the company behind the scheme and a myriad of other business interests
- Secretly directed G8way so he would not have to disclose its profits to Parliament
- ‘Ultimately’ sold access to ‘the highest levels of government’ through the firm
Berejiklian (pictured today) was mentioned for the first time during Wednesday’s hearing late in the afternoon in a phone call where a property developer sought a meeting via Daryl Maguire
A screengrab from G8way international’s website which claims its ‘influence and experience reaches to high levels of governnment’. Maguire was a secret director of the firm which ‘partly’ operated from his offices at Macquarie St, and he has admitted this is a reference to himself
Under questioning from Mr Robertson, Maguire, 61, described his business as an ‘intermediary’ between China and Australia.
His company had interests in milk powder, a coal mine, a gold mine, cotton, wine, steel and a showroom in Shenzen, China – although many of his business interests didn’t work out.
At the same time he was the member of Parliament for the seat of Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales.
NSW Premier Berejiklian has been sweating Maguire’s two days of evidence after sensationally revealing to the ICAC that she had a five year ‘close personal relationship’ with Maguire. He had split with his wife Maureen at the time.
The love affair occurred even as she knew Maguire has been accused of misusing his public office for financial benefit, sacking him in 2018.
In a defiant appearance in front of reporters on Wednesday, Berejiklian said her ‘tolerance for answering questions which frankly are offensive’ was waning.
The Premier said Maguire had ‘obviously … fooled a lot of people’ and insisted she had done nothing wrong.
‘I have stressed over and over again, I had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.’
Former lovers: The Premier is above with former Wagga Wagga MP Maguire in happier times
It was only moments into today’s hearing that Maguire admitted having received several cash deliveries for the visa scheme at his parliamentary office.
‘Do you agree that on more than one occasion, you received deliveries in your Parliament House office of thousands of dollars in cash associated with a scheme involving the obtaining of Australian visas for Chinese nationals,’ Mr Robertson asked.
‘Yes,’ Maguire said.
Asked how many times the funds were delivered – Robertson suggested ‘certainly more than one and less than say, 20, the counsel assisting suggested – Maguire was left saying ‘I don’t know. I don’t recall.’
‘Could it have been 20?’ commissioner Ruth McColl asked.
‘I don’t know, Commissioner,’ he said.
The inquiry was told how G8way promoted itself on its website as having ‘influence and expertise (that) reaches to high levels of government’.
Maguire said that was a reference to himself.
There was one thing, however, that Maguire ruled as too far.
Asked if he ever took a fee for introducing people to state politicians, he said: ‘That would be going too far.’
Sceptical Mr Robertson said: ‘So not too far to monetise your office in the way I’ve just identified but too far to monetise it in by way of introduction to a government official?’
‘Do you seriously draw that distinction?’ Robertson asked.
Maguire was then grilled about claims he charged a fee to make an introduction to former premier Barry O’Farrell, who himself was toppled by ICAC after failing to declare a bottle of Grange from a property developer.
Mr Robertson asked Maguire why an invoice made reference to an ‘introductory service’.
Maguire said: ‘I know what it says. But my recollection is there was a luncheon to be paid for’.
The Chinese delegation meeting with Premier Barry O’Farrell. A document appeared to allege Maguire’s G8way International company had charged them for an ‘introductory service’
This G8way International invoice appears to charge a fee to the Secretary of China’s Liaoning Province for an ‘introductory service’
Later in the hearing, Maguire admitted his visa business could be described as a ‘cash for visas scheme’.
‘This was a cash-for-visas scheme, wasn’t it? Mr Robertson asked.
‘It appears that way, yes,’ Mr Maguire replied.
On Tuesday, the ICAC inquiry heard that Maguire had told a former associate he had an ‘unfortunate accident’ where his phones and iPad were destroyed by a tractor.
Maggie Wang said she met the Wagga MP at a Sydney coffee shop after he retired from Parliament in 2018.
Asked what they talked about, Ms Wang said: ‘I think I remember … he mentioned about a unfortunate, unfortunate accident in the paddock with his phones and iPad.’
She then clarified the accident was ‘under tractors.’
He mentioned about a unfortunate … accident in the paddock with his phones and iPad
Maguire associate Maggie Wang
Counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson said: ‘So what, he said something like, ‘There’s been an unfortunate accident where my phones and iPad have been,’ what, ‘Run over by a tractor,’ something like that?’
‘Yeah, something like that,’ Ms Wang said.
Berejiklian and Maguire are seen meeting the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2014, in a photograph tendered to the Independent Commission Against Corruption
Evidence in front of the inquiry showed Maguire repeatedly raised his business dealings with Berejiklian over a number of years.
Berejiklian on Monday listened to a phone tap where Maguire discussed his attempts to cash in on the development of a second airport at Badgerys Creek.
‘We’ve done our deal so hopefully that’s about half of all that gone now,’ Maguire said before the premier replied: ‘I don’t need to know about that bit.’
Ms Berejikilan has insisted that she has ‘done nothing wrong’ and was not aware of any wrongdoing by Maguire.
‘I stuffed up in my personal life,’ she said earlier this week.
‘Had I known then what I know now, clearly I would not have made those personal decisions.’
Berejiklian has insisted she kept the relationship secret from her family, friends and colleagues.
The inquiry continues with Maguire to give evidence on Thursday.
A timeline of Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire’s relationship
* Berejiklian and Maguire begin a ‘close personal relationship’ around the time of the NSW election. Berejiklian was the transport minister while Maguire, a parliamentary secretary, was separated from his ex-wife.
APRIL 2, 2015:
* Berejiklian is appointed NSW treasurer after the coalition is re-elected.
JANUARY 23, 2017:
* Berejiklian becomes NSW premier, replacing Mike Baird. Maguire is retained as a parliamentary secretary in her government.
* Berejiklian tells Maguire she would like him to quit parliament at the 2019 election so the pair can go public with their relationship.
Berejiklian says Maguire also wanted that.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2017:
* Ms Berejiklian is heard in a telephone intercept saying she ‘didn’t need to know about that bit’ as Mr Maguire discusses his financial interests at Badgerys Creek Airport, and a land deal which would net him a large windfall.
A day earlier, Mr Maguire texted Ms Berejiklian that ‘we clinched the land deal’.
* Louise Waterhouse, a western Sydney landowner, twice emailed Berejiklian after being given her private address by Maguire. She requested help with rezoning changes around Badgerys Creek Airport that would benefit a parcel of her land. Berejiklian did not respond.
JULY 13, 2018:
* Maguire appears before ICAC, with evidence heard that he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.
AUGUST 3, 2018:
* Maguire resigns from the Berejiklian government at the behest of Ms Berejiklian and other frontbenchers, with Berejiklian saying she is ‘pleased’ and ‘relieved’ but privately she remains in contact with Maguire.
MARCH 23, 2019:
* The coalition retains government in the 2019 NSW election.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2020:
* Berejiklian cuts off all contact with Maguire and agrees to support an ICAC inquiry into his business interests.
OCTOBER 12, 2020:
* Berejiklian’s relationship with Maguire is revealed at ICAC.