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ICAC report finds no substance to corruption allegations involving Michael McGurk and others

Thursday 25 March 2010

The Independent Commission Against Corruption's (ICAC) report on its Investigation into allegations of corruption made by or attributed to Michael McGurk has found no substance to the 13 allegations of corrupt conduct identified.

The report, released today, follows the Commission's oral statement of findings delivered by ICAC Commissioner the Hon David Ipp AO QC at the public inquiry into the matter on 5 February 2010. The Commission does not make any findings of corrupt conduct in the relation to this matter. Nor does it intend to obtain the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The allegations identified by the Commission were based on the content of a secret audio recording made by Mr McGurk of a conversation conducted between himself and his business associate Ron Medich on 6 February 2009; various statements attributed to Mr McGurk by Sydney Morning Herald journalists, Vanda Carson and Kate McClymont, and James Byrnes, an insolvency specialist and a business associate of Mr McGurk; and information provided by a current correctional centre inmate.

Following the murder of Mr McGurk on 3 September 2009, various reports appeared in the media that material contained in the recording he had made of his conversation with Mr Medich of 6 February 2009 could "bring down the government". The conversation raised serious concerns that Mr Medich had improperly obtained or sought to obtain favourable decisions from Mr Sam Haddad, the Director General of the NSW Department of Planning, affecting the development of land he owned or in respect of which he had an interest.

The allegations investigated by the Commission included that Mr Medich represented that he could make a corrupt payment to Mr Haddad as an inducement for favour to be shown by Mr Haddad towards a proposed development application relating to land owned by Mr Medich at Gerroa, and that Mr Medich made corrupt payments to a former planning minister to assist with a planning matter. It was also alleged that Mr Medich caused payments to be made by Graham Richardson to various Ministers of the Crown and Mr Haddad as an inducement for favour to be shown in respect of planning decisions affecting applications for land owned by Ron Medich Properties Pty Limited and Roy Medich Properties Pty Limited at Badgerys Creek.

The Commission is satisfied that Mr Medich did say words to the effect that he had paid certain public officials for services they had rendered in connection with town planning approvals, and that what Mr Medich said in this regard was, to his knowledge, false. It finds that Mr Medich told lies to gain an advantage over Mr McGurk in relation to their commercial disputes, never expecting that they would be made public. The Commission is also satisfied that Mr McGurk understood that Mr Medich had said those things and that he (Mr McGurk) could use the recording against Mr Medich. The report also notes that Ms McClymont and Ms Carson, in accurate reports, caused to be published what Mr McGurk had told them but much of what he had told the journalists and others was false.

In particular, the report finds that the statements Mr McGurk made to the effect that the recording contained material that could bring down the government "deserve to be described as nonsense". As part of this investigation, the Commission held a public inquiry over five days from 1-5 February 2010, at which Commissioner Ipp presided.

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