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Bass Coast councillor cleared of alleged $15 million bribe

Acting Chief Municipal Inspector John Lynch confirmed that a complainant had alleged Cr Larke had offered to spend $5 million on each of the three Bass Coast wards to secure nomination as mayor.

“The investigation did not find evidence that Cr Larke had misused his position in breach of section 76D(2) of the Act. The Inspectorate will take no further action in this matter,” Dr Lynch said.

Cr Larke, who will stand again for the Bunurong ward at this month’s council elections, said he felt vindicated by the finding.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence of any allegation of wrongdoing while suffering from a serious injustice through the anonymous leak of confidential information and an associated smear campaign in the print and social media.

“I hold no ill will toward my fellow councillors or council officers, and whilst, in my opinion, they seriously misjudged the situation, there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough,” Mr Larke said.

The Age obtained emails from three councillors who alleged Cr Larke initially offered to give $1 million to each of the three council wards on the Bass Coast on the condition they nominated him as mayor.

When his incredulous colleagues repeatedly asked if he was serious, Cr Larke was accused of significantly increasing the proposed payment.

The allegations by the three councillors were unfounded, according to the investigation by the Local Government Inspectorate.

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