Former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong has been accused of lying and acting evasively at the ICAC inquiry into an allegedly illegal donation from a Chinese property developer.
Dumped Labor party secretary Kaila Murnain gave damning evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) this week that in 2016 Mr Wong told her Labor received a large donation from billionaire Huang Xiangmo.
The inquiry is investigating whether Labor received $100,000 from Mr Huang, disguised as numerous smaller donations at a Chinese Friends of Labor fundraiser dinner.
In NSW it is illegal for a property developer to donate money to a political party.
At Friday’s hearing Mr Wong was asked repeatedly if he told people the head table at the 2015 dinner was sold for $100,000.
After he skirted around answering the question for about 10 minutes, counsel assisting Scott Robertson accused him of giving false evidence under oath.
“Do you deny on your affirmation that you ever said to anyone the head table at the Chinese Friends of Labor Fundraiser on March 12, 2015 had been taken for a fee of $100,000?” Mr Robertson said.
Mr Wong had a range of responses to the question, such as “not really”, “I’ve got no memories of that”, and “if I have no recollection, I just can’t say yes or no to that”.
Chief commissioner Peter Hall eventually interjected and told Mr Wong that as an intelligent man and former MP he should be able to answer the question.
He also said it was not in his best interest to be evasive.
“Focus. I want you to listen very carefully,” he said.
Mr Wong eventually denied telling anyone about the table being sold for $100,000 or selling it to Mr Huang.
Mr Robertson then directed Mr Wong to an email he had sent a colleague, Joseph Law, saying the head table had been sold for $100,000.
Mr Wong then conceded he might have told some people the table was sold because he did not want to offend them by not putting them on the head table.
The ICAC will hear more evidence from Mr Wong on Monday, when he is expected to be asked about Ms Murnain’s claims they met outside NSW Parliament and he told her about the “big problem”.