I was try­ing to pro­tect Gla­dys: dis­graced lover

FOR­MER MP MAGUIRE AD­MITS COR­RUP­TION BUT CLAIMS HE SHIELDED BERE­JIK­LIAN FROM DODGY DEALS

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - YONI BASHAN NSW PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Dis­graced Lib­eral MP Daryl Maguire has ad­mit­ted try­ing to shield Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian from the full ex­tent of his fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety dur­ing their years-long re­la­tion­ship, con­ced­ing he knew the specifics would “cause her dif­fi­cul­ties” in her role as NSW Pre­mier.

The fi­nal day of Mr Maguire’s ev­i­dence to the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion Against Cor­rup­tion con­cluded with blunt ad­mis­sions from the for­mer MP that he de­lib­er­ately de­stroyed elec­tronic de­vices to stymie the ef­forts of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and mis­used his pub­lic of­fice to seek a per­sonal fi­nan­cial gain.

He agreed with the state­ment that he of­ten used Ms Bere­jik­lian as a “sound­ing board” on his per­sonal af­fairs and spoke to her in “gen­eral terms” about his busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dif­fer­ences also emerged in the time­line of his re­la­tion­ship with Ms Bere­jik­lian, which Mr Maguire said pos­si­bly be­gan as early as 2013, but more likely to­wards the end of 2014. Ms Bere­jik­lian told ICAC the re­la­tion­ship be­gan af­ter the March 2015 state elec­tion.

Mr Maguire’s ad­mis­sions to shield­ing the Pre­mier from his busi­ness ar­range­ments raises ques­tions about coded lan­guage used in some of the calls and why she — and not he — moved to shut down seem­ingly sen­si­tive por­tions of their con­ver­sa­tions.

On Fri­day Ms Bere­jik­lian was pressed again on why she bluntly told Mr Maguire on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions in 2017 that she “didn’t need to know about that bit”, as their con­ver­sa­tions veered into ter­ri­tory re­lat­ing to the sale of land at Badgerys Creek in Syd­ney’s west.

“I spent six hours be­ing very open and trans­par­ent and I re­fer you to those com­ments,” Ms Bere­jik­lian said. “Hand on heart, I have done noth­ing wrong and I re­fer ev­ery­one to my ev­i­dence on Mon­day.”

Mr Maguire ac­tively lob­bied MPs on be­half of the rac­ing fam­ily, but with­out declar­ing that he stood to gain a fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage from the sale of the land.

In one con­ver­sa­tion with Ms Water­house he urged her to con­tact the Pre­mier di­rectly, hand­ing out a pri­vate email for Ms Bere­jik­lian that the rac­ing heiress sub­se­quently used to make con­tact. He also told her not to re­veal who had pro­vided the email be­cause “all that stuff is ICAC-able”.

The Pre­mier’s ex­pla­na­tion for cut­ting off cer­tain con­ver­sa­tions with Mr Maguire was that she felt un­in­ter­ested by the fi­nan­cial specifics of his busi­ness ar­range­ments. She also said she was “bored and busy and wanted to move on” with the con­ver­sa­tion.

Her op­po­nents seized on the re­marks that she “didn’t need to know” as ev­i­dence that the Pre­mier was try­ing to limit her ex­po­sure to mis­con­duct, a propo­si­tion that was also put to Ms Bere­jik­lian nu­mer­ous times dur­ing her ap­pear­ance at the in­quiry.

Po­lit­i­cally, and in light of Mr Maguire’s ev­i­dence, Ms Bere­jik­lian’s fu­ture as leader re­mains un­cer­tain, ac­cord­ing to Lib­eral MPs. While some col­leagues re­main sup­port­ive, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son, oth­ers have found her con­duct dif­fi­cult to ac­cept.

In par­tic­u­lar they have queried why she main­tained an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with Mr Maguire for two years af­ter sack­ing him from the Lib­eral Party over cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions and is­su­ing a state­ment ex­press­ing “deep dis­ap­point­ment” over his “let­ting down the peo­ple of NSW”.

Trea­surer Do­minic Per­rot­tet and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Mark Speak­man, both lead­er­ship con­tenders, have de­flected ques­tions about the pos­si­bil­ity of nom­i­nat­ing for Ms Bere­jik­lian’s role should it be­come va­cant. Both have sup­ported her re­main­ing in the job.

Asked at the press con­fer­ence what it would take for her to step aside pend­ing the out­come of the in­quiry, Ms Bere­jik­lian re­sponded: “When I’ve done some­thing wrong.”

Mr Maguire was for­mally

dis­charged from the ICAC hear­ing af­ter a lengthy ex­am­i­na­tion that tra­versed his con­ver­sa­tions with the Pre­mier, the mo­ti­va­tion for his lob­by­ing ef­forts, and the de­struc­tion of elec­tronic de­vices that con­tained in­for­ma­tion rel­e­vant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dur­ing Mr Maguire’s three days of hear­ings he told of invit­ing prop­erty de­vel­oper Joseph Alha for glasses of wine in his Par­lia­ment House of­fice and to stag­ing a “drop in” meet­ing with the Pre­mier on Mr Alha’s in­sis­tence.

The hear­ing also heard that Mr Maguire was a silent di­rec­tor in a com­pany, known as G8way­in­ter­na­tional, which boasted of high-level ac­cess to mem­bers of gov­ern­ment and of­fered a “cash-for-visa” scheme that pro­vided mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion to im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials.

The for­mer MP con­ceded that there was “a line” beyond which he would not share in­for­ma­tion with the Pre­mier be­cause of the po­ten­tial for it to im­pact on her po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

“I thought it would cause her dif­fi­cul­ties so I lim­ited the in­for­ma­tion that I gave her, yes,” he said. “It was a need-to­know ba­sis. I didn’t want to bur­den her with de­tails she didn’t need to know. I think it might put her in a re­ally dif­fi­cult po­si­tion if I went into specifics of, of is­sues and all sorts of, you know, com­plex­i­ties that might be in­volved.”

Mr Maguire ad­mit­ted to in­struct­ing staff to de­stroy sen­si­tive records kept on elec­tronic de­vices fol­low­ing an ap­pear­ance at ICAC in 2018.

“I told them to wipe ev­ery­thing,” he said.

He con­ceded this was done in part to pre­vent in­ves­ti­ga­tors from ob­tain­ing fur­ther ma­te­rial, but also to wipe in­for­ma­tion un­re­lated to the case.

He told the hear­ing that in­stead of de­stroy­ing a USB stick and a lap­top, as he told staff, he dropped the USB stick mis­tak­enly at the farm gate to his prop­erty, say­ing it must have “got run over sev­eral times”. The com­mis­sion had heard pre­vi­ously that Mr Maguire said the USB de­vice had met an “un­for­tu­nate end”.

PIC­TURES: DY­LAN ROBIN­SON, NCA NEWSWIRE/JAMES GOUR­LEY

Daryl Maguire ar­rives at ICAC for his third day of tes­ti­mony; Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian at a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day

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