labor to freeze donations probed by icac

Labor to freeze donations probed by ICAC

Australia

The NSW Labor leader has moved to quarantine any potentially “tainted” donations at the centre of an anti-corruption investigation into his party’s dealings.

The state Independent Commission Against Corruption is reportedly investigating $100,000 worth of donations received by the Labor Party at a 2015 fundraising dinner.

The donations were the focus of an ICAC raid on NSW Labor’s head office in December, according to the ABC.

NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley on Monday directed his party’s head office to quarantine $100,000 and send it to the NSW Electoral Commission.

“I’ve spoken to the secretary of the Labor Party today and I’ve issued her a very simple direction – work with the electoral commission and send them $100,000 to quarantine,” Mr Daley told reporters on Monday.

“I don’t know if there’s any tainted money in those donations but if there is, I don’t want a bar of it. We won’t be using any of it in the campaign.”

However, later in the day, a NSW Labor spokesman told AAP the money would not be sent to the NSWEC unless the ICAC finds it was improperly donated.

The cash will instead be kept, for now, in a trust with an accounting firm.

“This arrangement has been reached following consultation with the NSW Electoral Commission,” the spokesman told AAP in a statement.

The ICAC is reportedly investigating 20 donations made to the party at a Chinese Friends of Labor dinner ahead of the 2015 state election.

The watchdog is thought to be examining whether the donations may have been given by so-called “straw donors”.

It is illegal under NSW electoral law for people to put their name to donations from other people or parties.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian jumped on the “very concerning” revelations.

“Unfortunately many people must be shaking their heads thinking ‘Nothing much has changed in the Labor Party’,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Monday.

Mr Daley said he had no prior knowledge of the information contained in Monday’s ABC report.

“In my 23 years in public life, I have always acted with integrity,” the Labor leader said.

“Any public official, elected or otherwise, who does not (act with integrity), deserves the full weight of the law to be applied to them.”