The NSW corruption watchdog will hold public hearings to investigate whether three former councilors have accepted benefits as an incentive to approve property developments in southern Sydney.
Former Georges River and Hurstville city councilors Con Hindi and Vince Badalati, and Hurstville councilor Philip Sansom, will lead the watchdog as it examines planning decisions in Hurstville between 2014 and 2021.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed in late 2020 that the Independent Commission Against Corruption was investigating allegations that Hindi and Badalati voted for a developer’s projects after traveling abroad with him.
ICAC is investigating allegations that the men flew to Tangshan, China, in April 2016 with property developer Wensheng Liu during their time on the former Hurstville council, which predated the merged Georges River Council. Wensheng Liu was behind a proposal for redevelopment and a planned 11-storey tower block. Both men have denied any allegation.
Badalati had earlier against the Herald he and Liberal Councilor Con Hindi paid for their own flights and accommodation when they visited Tangshan to visit a Chinese energy and waste processing plant.
According to a statement, ICAC will investigate whether Badalati, Hindi and Sansom sought or accepted benefits as an incentive or reward for partially and unfairly performing their official functions to promote the interests of Ching Wah (Philip) Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu.
Operation Galley will investigate whether the councilors have deliberately failed to declare or properly manage conflicts of interest arising from their relationships with the three men.
The five-week investigation will also examine whether Mr. Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu have provided benefits, such as overseas flights and accommodation, to gain the councilors’ support on planning issues.
The planning decisions cover developments in Hurstville at 1-5 Treacy Street, 1 Hill Road, 53-57 Forest Road, 108-126 Durham Street and 9 Roberts Lane.