ICAC: Maguire admits to monetising public office in ‘cash for visas’ scheme

By Matthew Elmas

Wednesday October 14, 2020

Maguire
Former NSW MP Daryl Maguire appearing before ICAC. (AAP).

Disgraced former NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire admitted he sought to monetise his parliamentary office and leverage his status as a politician for financial gain, in damning testimony heard by the state’s anti-corruption commission on Wednesday.

Appearing for his first day of questioning before NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Maguire made a series of admissions about his conduct as a parliamentary secretary and member for Wagga Wagga between 2012 and 2018, when he resigned under the weight of corruption allegations.

Under questioning from counsel assisting Scott Robertson, Maguire admitted he received thousands of dollars in payments from an illegitimate ‘cash for visas’ scheme to his parliamentary office, and that he was effectively in control of a company called G8Way International, which he accepted sought to sell “influence and experience that would reach to the highest levels of government”.

Maguire’s one-time “close personal relationship” with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was scarcely mentioned during Wednesday’s hearing, as Robertson instead probed the former politician about more than half a decade of allegedly improper dealings.

The Premier has stared down calls for her resignation this week after the anti-corruption inquiry played tapped phone calls revealing Maguire told Berejiklian he stood to make hundreds of thousands of dollars off a land deal near Western Sydney Airport.

Berejiklian replied: “I don’t need to know about that”.

Berejiklian has maintained she did nothing wrong and earlier this week characterised her relationship with Maguire as a “stuff up” in her personal life, while the Labor opposition has argued the Premier failed to act on what she was told.

On Wednesday, Maguire admitted he was in effective control of G8Way International, a company that routinely sought to leverage political contacts in NSW to facilitate business dealings in China, conceding he sought to officially distance himself from the company for fear it would raise concerns.

Evidence filed with the commission revealed G8Way International’s website boasted about “access to the highest levels of government”, which Maguire agreed was a reference to him.

“So one of the things G8Way was trying to sell was influence and experience that would reach to the highest levels of government?” Robertson asked.

“Yes,” Maguire replied.

In questioning over his participation in a ‘cash for visas’ scheme, Maguire admitted he and former business associate Maggie Wang orchestrated an illegitimate program that saw Chinese nationals pay for false employment to obtain visas.

Maguire received a fee for placing migrants into jobs he was aware they had no intention of showing up for, eventually admitting under questioning he knew the scheme involved lying to immigration officials.

“You decided to proceed anyway because there was potential money for you in the event you continued to refer businesses into this immigration scheme. Do you agree?” Robertson asked.

“Yes,” Maguire replied.

“You must agree that it was a breach of public trust placed in you to proceed with this immigration scheme, correct?” Robertson continued.

“Yes,” Maguire replied.

The inquiry is investigating whether Maguire pursued improper commercial opportunities between 2012 and 2018 while a member of parliament; the genesis of the investigation was allegations he furthered the interests of a China-based property development company by coordinating “door opening” and “lobby work”.

Maguire resigned in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard he sought payment to help broker deals for property developers.

The inquiry continues.

This story has been updated.

READ MORE: ‘I stuffed up’: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stares down calls for resignation over ICAC probe

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