by CINDY LI – DARYL Maguire, who allegedly committed visa fraud while serving as a NSW MP, has been charged with making false and misleading evidence to a corruption inquiry involving a council in Sydney.
On June 2, Mr Maguire, a former NSW MP for Wagga Wagga and ex-boyfriend of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, was again charged with giving false and misleading evidence in 2018 to Operation Dasha.
The Dasha corruption investigation was looking into the conduct of Canterbury City councillors, ICAC has confirmed.
In the case, six former councillors were alleged to have engaged in seriously corrupt conduct in relation to planning advice and applications.
ICAC recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions bring criminal charges against Maguire, who gave testimony over denials he made during his evidence on July 13, 2018. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Maguire initially denied doing business with former councillor Michael Hawatt or seeking payment for brokering deals on behalf of a Chinese real estate developer.
After ICAC played taped recordings of telephone calls, however, Mr Maguire admitted dealing with Mr Hawatt on behalf of Chinese property company Country Garden – and seeking payment if the developers invested in a $48 million project in Canterbury.
Country Garden, China’s largest private-sector developer, closed in 2022 due to a debt default after launching several rounds of public investment calls.
Weeks after giving evidence, Mr Maguire resigned from the Liberal Party. He then resigned his seat of Wagga Wagga after increased pressure.
The new charge comes as the former MP was preparing to appear before court on June 20 for conspiring to commit an offence.
In late 2022, Mr Maguire was charged with conspiring with a migration agent and engaging in a “cash-for-visa” scheme, where visa applicants payed employers to gain employment – then using their work experience to apply for an Australian residential visa.
The scheme is the subject of ICAC’s Operation Keppel, an investigation into Mr Maguire and Ms Berejiklian.
Mr Maguire, 64, was Ms Berejiklian’s secret lover, with whom she had a five-year relationship starting in 2015.
He allegedly told Berejiklian to get a private phone and download the instant messaging app WeChat days after he had been summoned by ICAC in 2018.
Maguire texted Berejiklian on July 9, 2018, asking her to download WeChat, a messaging app popular among Chinese people, which has raised security concerns.
“They can read texts, but not the little green man. It leaves no trace,” Mr Maguire allegedly wrote to Ms Berejiklian five days after he was called by the commission.
The former premier said Maguire’s suggestions “could have been for privacy reasons”.
“I had no inclination to think that it was because he had done anything wrong,” she said at that time.
“I had no reason to disbelieve him when I pressed him a number of times and he said he’d done nothing wrong.
“I trusted him,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian has continually denied any wrong-doing.PC
– Cindy Li