The Chinese billionaire accused of dropping off an Aldi bag stuffed with $100,000 at the ALP’s NSW headquarters has declared the allegation is “ridiculous” and he is not the source of the mysterious political donation.
Huang Xiangmo, who is banned from re-entering Australia on national security grounds, has steadfastly refused to co-operate or give evidence to ICAC.
But he has now broken his silence with a statement to a Chinese language website.
“I am not the source of the alleged donation. I do not know any of the alleged donors of the sum or any of the ‘straw donors’ as referred to in recent reports, nor have I had any contact with them,” the Huang Xiangmo statement said.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, the billionaire went further, noting that he had never shopped at Aldi in his life.
He left open the door to potentially giving evidence via a video link from his new home of Hong Kong, but he pointed out he could nor travel to Australia even if he wished to because of the cancellation of his visa.
Mr Huang said the “ridiculous” obsession with the Aldi bag was another factor.
But he pointedly declined to discuss whether or not he did take possession of the Aldi bag with the money at a fundraiser out of courtesy to help former Labor MP Ernest Wong.
“Once again, any donations I’ve made including donations to charity have been declared in accordance with the Australian laws and regulations, openly and honestly,” he said.
“As a leader of the overseas Chinese community, I’m frequently invited to a variety of activities, including that fundraising dinner in question.
“The organisers invited me not only out of respect but so we can all lend weight to the event and appeal to others to attend.”
The billionaire also addressed the tragic suicide of a witness Quanbao “Leo” Liao, who is accused of being involved in the scheme.
Mr Huang’s statement said he was “shocked and saddened to learn of the tragedy”.
There was another day of drama at the ICAC hearing including suspended ALP boss Kaila Murnain crying in the witness box as she admitted not being truthful in her first, secret interview with ICAC.
The hearings also tabled an extraordinary exhibit detailing constant phone calls between Ms Murnain and former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari on the day she discovered that Huang Xiangmo might be the mystery donor behind the $100,000.
Regardless of Mr Huang’s denial that he personally coughed up the $100,000 in cash, the phone records confirms that former Labor MP Ernest Wong called Mr Huang immediately after he confessed to Ms Murnain that he believed the billionaire to be the true donor.
Lifeline – 131 114
BeyondBlue – 1300 224 636