Chinese Billionaire Was Just 'Delivery Boy' For $100,000 Donation, ICAC Told
He’s a billionaire property developer.
But stunning evidence out of the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday would have you believe banned Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo was also a volunteer “delivery boy".
ICAC Chief Commissioner Peter Hall QC asked a series of incredulous questions of former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong, about an alleged illegal $100,000 cash drop in an Aldi shopping bag to NSW Labor Party HQ in 2015.
It stemmed from the Chinese Friends of Labor event that year, where Huang sat on the VVIP (very very important table) with then Labor leaders Bill Shorten and Luke Foley.
Wong testified “substantial amounts” of money had been donated in cash, but tried to say Xiangmo took the Aldi bag to Labor HQ as a favour -- not as a donor.
“Mr Huang was there, said he was going to see [then NSW Labor Party boss] Jamie Clements and said he was going to take the money to head office,” Wong said.
“He was supposed to see Jamie Clements in head office, he was happy to deliver the money.”
The ICAC Commissioner wanted to clarify.
“Did it come as somewhat of a surprise to you, here was an alleged billionaire offering to do a delivery run of a bunch of cash?”
“No, not really,” Wong answered. “Here was someone who just wanted (to make) an impression.”
“Had he done delivery runs for the ALP or anyone else before, deliver money or packages?” the Commissioner asked.
After more grilling, Counsel Assisting Scott Robertson asked the question of the morning.
“Mr Wong, are you just making all this up as you go along? It seems highly implausible."
“I have got no clear recollection, I’m just trying to put all my memories together,” Wong tried to explain.
“There’s no accountability?”
That was the earlier question from the ICAC Chief Commissioner to Wong.
Labelled the “write off issue” by counsel assisting, Scott Robertson, the corruption inquiry was hearing how thousands of dollars donated to the NSW Labor Party that night were siphoned off to Chinese supporter groups, apparently without official consent.
Wong had just admitted he decided to give $5000 donated to the NSW Labor Party from a fundraising dinner to The Friends of Chinese Community, or FCC.
“I ask their consent if they’re happy to donate to that organisation rather than the Labor Party,” Wong testified from the corruption watchdog hot seat.
“Once you obtained consent of the donor you made a record of that consent?” the Commissioner asked.
READ MORE: NSW Labor Boss Suspended After ICAC Probe
“Why not?” the Commissioner grilled. “You are dealing with other people’s money, there has to be fundamental accountability all the way?”
“Sure,” Wong responded. “Since now you remind me that would be the right practice but I didn’t practice that at the time.”
“Why didn’t you,” the Commissioner asked. “There’s no accountability. You have a conversation with a relatively junior (NSW Labor Party) employee at the time, Kenrick Cheah, writing off this amount?”
“I assumed he probably would be able to communicate it with the office,” Wong replied.