The Home Affairs Department is investigating Daryl Maguire’s ‘cash for visas’ scheme, with confirmation he contacted immigration officials and possibly federal politicians as part of his scam.
Disgraced former NSW MP Mr Maguire last week admitted to running his political office for personal benefit, while in a secret five-year relationship with state premier Gladys Berejiklian.
As part of his business, Mr Maguire’s company set up Chinese nationals with work visas through businesses in his electorate of Wagga Wagga. But it’s unclear if there was any obligation for the “employee” to actually work.
Mr Maguire said his business, G8way International, could get up to $20,000 per placement, as a “success fee”. When asked if it was ‘cash for visas’, he replied “it appears that way”.
He also admitted an “essential element” of the scheme was lying to federal immigration officials.
On Monday, Department of Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo confirmed his staff were investigating the ICAC revelations, to see who Mr Maguire had contacted.
#BREAKING: The Department of Home Affairs confirms they are in "close discussions" with the NSW ICAC over the Daryl Maguire "cash for visas" scandal.
The Home Affairs Secretary says individuals associated with the matter have come to the attention of the Dept previously #auspol
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) October 18, 2020
Labor senator Kristina Keneally asked whether the former MP had made advances to the immigration department, or immigration ministers.
“We have been checking,” Mr Pezzullo said.
“I’ve seen some preliminary advice to that effect. It’s not concluded, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve asked for other records to be examined.”
“As is the case with federal and state and territory members, occasionally representations are made, either directly to the department, either by way of direct reference to me or to officers within the department, or by way of federal members of parliament.”
breaking: Department of Home Affairs secretary, Mike Pezzullo, says Daryl Maguire made "representations" to federal officials (and maybe MPs) over visas – department investigating
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) October 18, 2020
When asked by Senator Keneally whether that meant Mr Maguire had made representations himself, Mr Pezzullo replied “I believe that to be the case”.
“I’ve asked for further particulars to be established in that regard,” he said.
The secretary said the department was “cross-referencing” ICAC revelations against its own records.
“His name does come up in departmental records, as a correspondent,” Mr Pezzullo said of Mr Maguire.
He said Home Affairs would “work in parallel with ICAC” to investigate the cash for visas scheme.
Earlier in the day, Ms Berejiklian again sought to distance herself from her former boyfriend.
Last week, the Premier had said she didn’t believe the relationship – beginning in 2015 and ending as recently as September – did not have “sufficient status” to tell anyone about. Then, over the weekend, she told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that she loved Mr Maguire and had hoped they would marry one day.
However, on Sydney’s 2GB radio on Monday, Ms Berejiklian again downplayed their relationship, claiming it was “extremely sporadic” and that he “wasn’t anything of note” to her.
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay claimed the story had “inconsistencies”.
Gladys Berejiklian – "It wasn't a normal relationship. He wasn't my boyfriend, he wasn't anything of note. I certainly hoped he would be, but it wasn't sufficiently substantial"
"I didn't want to introduce anyone to my close network unless I knew he was the real deal".#NSWpol
— Ben Fordham Live (@BenFordhamLive) October 18, 2020
On Monday, the Premier again claimed that she had no idea of the extent of Mr Maguire’s business dealings.
“I didn’t pick up on any of that stuff … I think a lot of my colleagues have been shocked as well because a lot of us knew him over a long period of time and none of us picked up on the extent of what he was up to,” she said.
“We thought he was someone of honesty and integrity.”
In relation to a secretly-taped phone call where Mr Maguire talked about some of his business plans, in which she said she didn’t “need to know about that bit”, the Premier again claimed it was because she was bored with the conversation.
“I probably wasn’t paying attention and listening properly … or I dismissed it because I thought that’s his business and it’s got nothing to do with me,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“It did not cross my mind that there was anything untoward.”
I know I said Gladys’ private relationships is just that – private.
BUT how can you say your relationship is not of ‘sufficient status’ to disclose then in the next breath ‘I loved him & wanted to marry him.’
You cannot have it both ways. There are too many inconsistencies.
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) October 18, 2020
Ms McKay has maintained the pressure on Ms Berejiklian, claiming she was “playing with words” in her summation of the relationship.