Thu, Aug 1, 8:00am by Staff Writer
Chinese billionaire and Crown Casino high roller Huang Xiangmo’s relationship with former New South Wales Labor party boss Jamie Clements and ex-state MP Ernest Wong will be the focus of fresh corruption commission hearings next month.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Independent Commission Against Corruption will examine serious allegations of subversion of state election donation laws.
Also of “significant public interest” to the corruption watchdog is possible foreign influence on the New South Wales electoral process by Chinese business figures, some of whom are understood to have close ties with the Chinese government.
The report also reveals that Mr Huang is an $800 million per year Crown Casino high roller, and such a big punter that it used him as a case study of the benefits of uber-wealthy Chinese gamblers moving to live in Australia.
Leaked Crown documents that form part of an ongoing investigation can also reveal how Mr Huang dealt with powerful former Labor Party operatives working for Crown Casino, even after ASIO warned Labor and the Coalition about him in August, 2015.
Mr Huang was expelled from Australia by ASIO over his foreign influence activities.
As the fallout from this investigation continued, the federal government on Tuesday ordered a national integrity watchdog to examine a string of allegations about the conduct of Commonwealth officials linked to Crown’s operations.
The Herald has previously revealed the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been investigating New South Wales Labor concerning allegations of a “scheme to evade” the state’s electoral funding laws.
Details of the ICAC investigation came to light after New South Wales Labor registered a formal complaint about ICAC executing a search warrant at its headquarters last December.
An investigation was undertaken by the independent inspector of ICAC, Bruce McClintock, SC.
Exclusive: Chinese billionaire and $800-million-per-year Crown high roller Huang Xiangmo's relationship with key Labor figures will be the focus of fresh corruption commission hearings next month, after ASIO flagged him with both parties in 2015 https://t.co/R0urnYVHaj
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) July 30, 2019
His report into the ALP’s complaint, tabled in parliament recently, contained extraordinary details surrounding the complexity and seriousness of the ICAC inquiry.
Targets of the inquiry were revealed to be ALP officials, members of Chinese Friends of Labor and political donors, who may have allegedly evaded donation laws, which the report suggests can attract jail terms of up to 10 years.
The report revealed the ICAC was investigation concerns those parties “entered into a scheme to evade the prohibitions and requirements of [the electoral funding act] relating to political donations.”
Sources reveal that of particular interest to the inquiry are donations made by Mr Huang, who was stranded in Hong Kong earlier this year after he was refused re-entry to Australia.
When contacted on Tuesday, Mr Wong said he “expected to be called” to the inquiry given he was the patron of the Chinese Friends of Labor organisation.
In 2013 Mr Wong, a close confidant of Mr Huang, was given an Upper House seat by Labor Party officials.
He succeeded former treasurer Eric Roozendaal who, upon quitting parliament, went to work for Mr Huang’s prominent property development company, Yuhu.
Asked if he had been summoned to appear, Mr Clements declined to comment.
In 2017 Mr Clements, who was general secretary from 2014 to 2016, was convicted of unlawfully accessing the electoral roll after he sought confidential details about a voter for a union boss. He was fined $4000.
Of specific interest to ICAC is a March 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, where $100,000 was raised for the party.
Jonathan Yee, the former head of Chinese Friends of Labor, is understood to have played a key role in rounding up the donors.
A Labor source said there had been discussions within head office as to whether ALP officials would have their legal fees covered by the party in relation to “further developments” in the matter.
Former Senator and onetime General Secretary of NSW Labor Sam Dastyari resigned from Federal parliament after it was revealed that he had tipped off Mr Huang that his phone was being monitored.
In February, Mr Dastyari said his first encounter with Mr Huang should have sparked “warning bells” after he met him at a private restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown.
“He had just booked out an entire restaurant to have dinner with me. I was vain. Arrogant. Thought I was special,” he said.
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