SYDNEY (Reuters) – The former premier of Australia’s most populous state engaged in corrupt conduct involving another lawmaker with whom she was in a secret romantic relationship during her term in office, a years-long corruption inquiry said in a report issued on Thursday.
The New South Wales Independent Commission into Corruption (ICAC) said in a report handed to parliament that Gladys Berejiklian had failed to notify the commission of her concerns that Daryl Maguire, a member of parliament with whom she was in a relationship, may have engaged in corrupt conduct, and this undermined the ministerial code.
As NSW premier in 2020 Berejiklian, once a star of the Liberal party and widely respected for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, told the corruption inquiry that she had had a secret “close personal relationship” with Maguire, who was under investigation for monetising his position through business dealings with China.
A year later she resigned when the watchdog said it was investigating whether she was involved in conduct that “constituted or involved a breach of public trust”.
The commission said it would seek advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions on whether any prosecution should be commenced.
Berejiklian, who could not be immediately reached for comment, has denied any wrongdoing.
Maguire told the inquiry he had received envelopes full of thousands of dollars in cash at his parliament office as part of a scheme for Chinese nationals to fraudulently acquire visas, and had also tried to make money from his position as chairman of the parliament’s Asia Pacific Friendship Group by promoting a series of Chinese business deals in the Pacific islands.
He already faces a criminal charge for his role in the visa scheme, for which he has not yet entered a plea in court. His lawyer, Jim Harrowell, said in a statement on Wednesday the commission is “not authorised to make any findings that the person has committed a criminal offence”.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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