Daryl Maguire to Front ICAC
Daryl Maguire to Front ICAC

AFP to investigate Daryl Maguire over links to airport sale

The Australian Federal Police will investigate if disgraced Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire had any connection to the $30 million purchase of a piece of land for the Western Sydney Airport worth ten times less.

AFP deputy commissioner Ian McCartney has told a senate estimates hearing as part of the investigation into the Commonwealth's purchase of the Leppington Triangle land, police would engage with NSW ICAC to ensure Mr Maguire was not involved.

"There's other issues in relation to Badgery's Creek in terms of just satisfying ourselves that Mr Maguire does not have any involvement in relation to the manner that we're investigating," Mr McCartney said.

The northern area of the new Western Sydney airport. Picture: Toby Zerna
The northern area of the new Western Sydney airport. Picture: Toby Zerna

"That'd be our or primary focus of engaging ICAC at the minute."

Senator Kristina Kenneally also asked Mr McCartney if the AFP had approached ICAC about the cash-for-visa scheme Mr Maguire allegedly conceived.

"No we haven't," Mr McCartney said.

"The Home Affairs Department are conducting some inquiries in relation to that situation."

Mr McCartney said he believed if the department found anything worth referring to the AFP, they would do so,

"The ICAC inquiry is still ongoing and we'll engage if it's deemed necessary with ICAC authorities in the next week or so in terms of some of those issues that arise," he said.

 

AFP PROBE POTENTIAL FRAUD OVER AIRPORT $27M OVERSPEND

Taxpayers forked out almost $30 million for about 12 hectares of land - known as the Leppington triangle - needed to build a second runway for the Badgerys Creek airport in the next three decades, despite a later valuation saying it was only worth about $3m.

The Auditor General found serious "ethical" and "due diligence" issues in how the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport handled the process, and criticised staff for not fully briefing ministers.

 

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has told a senate estimates hearing he was contacted by the Auditor General, who was investigating the land purchase, three months ago to discuss what he "had discovered and just raise some of those issues with myself and then talk about what the process of a referral would look like".

The senate committee was told the referral was then formalised in writing in a letter to the AFP on July 13, highlighting "fraud may have been committed".

The AFP Commissioner replied on July 17 to confirm the Acting Assistant Commissioner would meet with senior members of the audit team.

The investigation was formalised by the AFP on 27 July and is now in an "assessment" stage.

The Auditor General has handed over about 256GB of information - or more than 800 files - to the AFP.

The investigation is focused on sections of the Criminal Code that specifically deal with the corruption of public officials.

Last week the AFP issued a statement about the investigation.

"The AFP can confirm it is conducting an investigation to identify potential criminal offences relating to issues identified in an ANAO report into the sale of land to the Commonwealth at Badgerys Creek," a spokeswoman said.

"This investigation remains ongoing, and it is too early to speculate on potential outcomes."

 

EARLIER

Public servants looked to try and cover up a Western Sydney land deal where taxpayers were overcharged up to $27 million, the Infrastructure Department boss has conceded.

Labor Senator Penny Wong put it to departmental secretary Simon Atkinson an audit of the transaction showed "extraordinary" conduct which was "outside of what you want any reasonable person would regard as appropriate."

"But worse, what it looks like is these people tried to cover it up when the Audit Office came asking questions," Ms Wong said.

"Senator, I agree with you," Mr Atkinson replied. "I'm trying to clean it up."

A Senate Estimates committee also heard one public servant is under a code of conduct investigation related to the deal, while a second person was being investigated for the management of their of declarations of personal interests.

Infrastructure Department Secretary Simon Atkinson says he’s trying to ‘clean up’ issues around the purchase of land for the Western Sydney Airport. Picture: Kym Smith
Infrastructure Department Secretary Simon Atkinson says he’s trying to ‘clean up’ issues around the purchase of land for the Western Sydney Airport. Picture: Kym Smith

Mr Atkinson also contradicted Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who described the airport land sale as a "bargain" insisting that "in time it will be a very good investment".

But Mr Atkinson said he was "not aware" of any evidence to support that assessment of the sale.

Mr Atkinson told Senate estimates his department identified concerns with the land purchase before it was investigated by the Audit Office, after an accountant flagged concerns.

He agreed with Ms Wong's summary that the department "came back saying nothing to see".

"In simple terms, yes," Mr Atkinson replied.

Taxpayers forked out almost $30 million for about 12 hectares of land needed to build a second runway for the new Western Sydney Airport in the next three decades, despite a later valuation saying it was only worth about $3m.

The purchase of a piece of land needed for the future expansion of the Western Sydney Airport is being scrutinised at Senate Estimates. Picture: Toby Zerna
The purchase of a piece of land needed for the future expansion of the Western Sydney Airport is being scrutinised at Senate Estimates. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

A scathing audit found the federal government paid $26.7 million more than the "fair value" of a 12.26 hectare triangle of land at Leppington in July 2018.

The Auditor General found serious "ethical" and "due diligence" issues in how the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport handled the process, and criticised staff for not fully briefing ministers.

The federal government bought the land at Bringelly, in Sydney's west, from the Leppington Pastoral Company, which is owned by billionaires Ron and Tony Perich.

The department only sought one valuation before the sale, using a person recommended by the Company selling the land who they deemed did not have a conflict of interest.

Less than a year after the Department of Infrastructure advised the government buy the land from the Leppington Pastoral Company at the high price, it was valued at just $3.06m.

In a report detailing a litany of failures, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) slammed federal department for not providing the relevant Minister with crucial facts, including the value of the land or the benefit of purchasing it decades before it was required.

 

 

Originally published as AFP to investigate if Daryl Maguire had links to airport land sale



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