Chinese billionaire ‘gave $100K in cash to NSW Labor’

Exiled Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo handed over $100,000 in cash to the NSW Labor Party, explosive allegations made at an ICAC corruption hearing today heard.

And former ALP Senator Sam Dastyari will also be called as a witness this week to the ICAC hearing.

In his opening address, ICAC counsel assisting Scott Robertson told the first public hearing into whether the ALP used "straw man" donors to circumvented donation laws, that Mr Huang has refused to give evidence via video-link.

An ICAC corruption hearing heard Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo handed over $100,000 in cash. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
An ICAC corruption hearing heard Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo handed over $100,000 in cash. Picture: Renee Nowytarger

And another alleged donor committed suicide after being quizzed by ICAC investigators, Mr Robertson said.

The hearing was told a Chinese Friends of Labor fundraiser at the Eight Restaurant in Haymarket on 12 March 2015 listed multiple friends and family of another restaurant owner as donors, but these donations were "implausible". At the time, it was an offence for individuals to donate more than $5000.

ICAC is investigating whether ALP NSW branch officials and members of the Chinese Friends of Labor created a scheme to circumvent state donation laws, which can carry prison sentences of up to 10 years' jail.

Property development firm Wu International general manager Leo Liao was due to give evidence to the ICAC in a compulsory examination on 25 June, 2018. He took his life on the weekend before that scheduled appearance.

ALP staffer Kenrick Cheah arrives at ICAC in Sydney this morning. Picture: David Swift.
ALP staffer Kenrick Cheah arrives at ICAC in Sydney this morning. Picture: David Swift.

"Tragically Mr Liao is understood to take his own life connected with the conduct that the Commission is investigating," Mr Robertson said.

A suicide note addressed to his wife was found, mentioning the fact detectives had arrived about the case.

"Another aspect of the evidence that will be presented that warrants immediate comment is that of Ms Kaila Murnain (ALP boss)," Mr Robertson said.

"Ms Murnain has given evidence to the Commission in a compulsory examination to the effect that Ernest Wong (former ALP MP) told her that a person had not, in fact donated the funds that they had said that they had donated to the Labor Party in 2015.

Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has been called to give evidence. Picture: AAP
Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has been called to give evidence. Picture: AAP

"Ms Murnain said that Mr Wong told her that Mr Huang Xiangmo was the true source of the funds said to be donated by that other person."

He also stated that Kenrick Cheah, ALP staffer, had told the ICAC that Mr Huang gave the then NSW Labor General Secretary Jamie Clements $100,000 in cash.

The public hearing before ICAC chief commissioner Peter Hall QC is expected to run for six weeks.

The public hearings come eight months after the party's Sussex Street headquarters were raided.

First on the witness list is Mr Cheah

Mr Cheah, who worked for several state ALP Ministers and was also a caucus adviser for the Federal Labor, also ran for council elections at Willoughby in 2017.

The public hearings come eight months after the party's Sussex Street headquarters were raided.

Huang was expelled from Australia by ASIO over foreign influence activities but was a prolific donor in recent years.

In 2017 Mr Dastyari was forced to quit after it became public that he had warned Huang, who is linked to the Chinese Communist Party, that he could be under surveillance by government agencies.

Has this story raised issues for you? Help is available.