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ICAC to grill key Labor figures over Chinese donations and influence

Mr Huang was expelled from Australia by ASIO over his foreign influence activities.

As the fallout from this investigation continued, the federal government on Tuesday ordered a national integrity watchdog examine a string of allegations about the conduct of Commonwealth officials linked to Crown’s casino operations.

The Herald has previously revealed the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been investigating NSW Labor concerning allegations of a “scheme to evade” the state’s electoral funding laws.

Jamie Clements, former NSW state secretary of the Labor Party.

Jamie Clements, former NSW state secretary of the Labor Party.Credit:Dallas Kilponen

Details of the ICAC investigation came to light after NSW Labor registered a formal complaint about ICAC executing a search warrant at its headquarters last December.

An investigation was undertaken by the independent inspector of ICAC, Bruce McClintock, SC.

His report into the ALP’s complaint, tabled in parliament recently, contained extraordinary details surrounding the complexity and seriousness of the ICAC inquiry.

Targets of the inquiry were revealed to be ALP officials, members of Chinese Friends of Labor and political donors, who may have allegedly evaded donation laws, which the report suggests can attract jail terms of up to 10 years.

MP Ernest Wong has close ties to Huang Xiangmo’s Yuhu Group.

MP Ernest Wong has close ties to Huang Xiangmo’s Yuhu Group.

The report revealed the ICAC was investigating concerns those parties “entered into a scheme to evade the prohibitions and requirements of [the electoral funding act] relating to political donations”.

Sources have told the Herald that of particular interest to the inquiry are donations made by Mr Huang, who was stranded in Hong Kong earlier this year after he was refused re-entry to Australia.

When contacted on Tuesday, Mr Wong said he “expected to be called” to the inquiry given he was the patron of the Chinese Friends of Labor organisation.

In 2013 Mr Wong, a close confidant of Mr Huang, was given an Upper House seat by Labor party officials. He succeeded former treasurer Eric Roozendaal who, upon quitting parliament, went to work for Mr Huang’s prominent property development company, Yuhu.

Asked if he had been summoned to appear, Mr Clements declined to comment.

In 2017 Mr Clements, who was general secretary from 2013 to 2016, was convicted of unlawfully accessing the electoral roll after he sought confidential details about a voter for a union boss. He was fined $4000.

Huang Xiangmo and Sam Dastyari at a Chinese media press conference that would cost him his political career.

Huang Xiangmo and Sam Dastyari at a Chinese media press conference that would cost him his political career.

Of specific interest to ICAC is a March 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, where $100,000 was raised for the party.

Jonathan Yee, the former head of Chinese Friends of Labor, is understood to have played a key role in rounding up the donors.

A Labor source said there had been discussions within head office as to whether ALP officials would have their legal fees covered by the party in relation to “further developments” in the matter.

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“There is clearly movement at the station on that matter,” the source said of the ICAC inquiry which is scheduled to start on Monday, 26 August.

They described the decision for Labor to lodge the complaint with ICAC, which resulted in key details and seriousness of the matter being made public, as “a fuck up”.

Former Senator and onetime General Secretary of NSW Labor Sam Dastyari resigned from Federal parliament after it was revealed that he had tipped off Mr Huang that his phone was being monitored.

In February, Mr Dastyari said his first encounter with Mr Huang should have sparked “warning bells” after he met him at a private restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown.

“He had just booked out an entire restaurant to have dinner with me. I was vain. Arrogant. Thought I was special,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“There is an arms race for donations between the parties. And when you’ve got individuals like Huang who are prepared to fork out millions of dollars they get listened to,” the former in NSW Senator said.

The Senator had previously found himself in strife when, during the 2016 Federal election campaign, he stood beside Mr Huang at a Chinese-media press conference, supporting the Chinese party’s position on the South China Sea, which was contrary to the ALP’s stated position.

A spokeswoman for ICAC declined to comment.

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