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Public inquiry into corruption allegations concerning former Georges River and Hurstville City Councillors, and others

Wednesday 25 May 2022

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry starting Tuesday 14 June 2022 as part of an investigation it is conducting concerning the conduct of former Georges River Council (GRC) and Hurstville City Council (HCC) Councillors, Constantine Hindi and Vincenzo (Vince) Badalati, and then HCC Councillor Philip Sansom (Operation Galley).

The Commission is investigating whether, between 2014 and 2021, then HCC and later GRC Councillors Hindi and Badalati, and then HCC Councillor Sansom, sought and/or accepted benefits as an inducement or reward for partially and dishonestly exercising their official functions to favour the interests of Ching Wah (Philip) Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu, in relation to planning matters affecting 1-5 Treacy Street, and 1 Hill Road, Hurstville (“the Treacy Street development”); and 53-57 Forest Road, 108-126 Durham Street and 9 Roberts Lane, Hurstville (“the Landmark Square development”). The Commission is also examining whether, during that period, Councillors Hindi, Badalati and Sansom deliberately failed to declare or properly manage any conflict of interest arising from their relationships with Mr Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu.

The Commission is further investigating whether, also between 2014 and 2021, Mr Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu provided benefits, including overseas flights and accommodation, to Councillors Hindi, Badalati and Sansom, as a reward or inducement to favour their interests in relation to Council decisions regarding planning matters affecting the Treacy Street and Landmark Square developments.

The general scope and purpose of the public inquiry is to gather evidence relevant to the matters being investigated for the purpose of determining the matters referred to in section 13(2) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.

The Commission has decided that, until there is a substantial improvement in the COVID-19 situation in NSW, any public inquiries will, as far as practicable, be conducted remotely by audio visual link. Only those whose presence on Commission premises is deemed essential for the effective conduct of the public inquiry will be permitted on-site. Members of the public and the media will therefore not be permitted to attend the premises for the course of the Operation Galley public inquiry.

The Commission will live stream the proceedings via its website, www.icac.nsw.gov.au, and will post exhibits (provided they are not subject to non-publication orders), transcripts and witness lists. Updates will also be provided via the ICAC Twitter account (@nswicac).

Commissioner Stephen Rushton SC will preside at the public inquiry. Counsel Assisting the Commission will be Zelie Heger of Counsel. It is expected that the public inquiry will continue for five weeks. A witness list for the first week of the inquiry will be published closer to the commencement date of the proceedings, along with further information about how to access the live stream.