The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) this week heard that former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire told his friend and business partner to “delete any records” linked to their Asia-Pacific business network within days of appearing at a corruption inquiry in 2018.
G8wayInternational was formed by a “joint discussion” between Maguire and Wagga businessman Phillip Elliott, his friend of 40 years and past campaign manager.
It was created to be a liaison between Australian and Chinese suppliers and buyers and offered immigration services, including an alleged ‘cash for visas’ scheme.
Mr Elliott told the Commission that Maguire had contacted him in July 2018, “days” after Maguire had last appeared before the Commission inquiry and soon after resigning from the Liberal Party, on more than one occasion.
Counsel assisting ICAC Scott Robertson asked if Maguire had, during these discussions, given him any advice of what to do in light of his appearance before the Commission.
“To remove any records that I may have had,” Mr Elliott replied.
Mr Robertson asked Mr Elliott to pause and “do the best you can” to identify what words Maguire had said to him, or words to the closest effect.
Mr Elliott replied with, “…words to the effect of, ‘Delete any records of,’ and I don’t know whether a reference to [G8wayInternational] or, or ‘our records’ or something along those lines.”
Mr Robertson asked Mr Elliott to confirm that something like “Delete any records” and/or “Delete things associated with G8wayInternational” was communicated to him by Maguire, to which Mr Elliott said, “yes.”
When asked what steps he took in response to the suggestion, Mr Elliott said, “I deleted or tried to delete any emails and, and, and spreadsheets and so forth.”
Mr Elliott said he did this because “That was what I was asked to do, so I tried.”
The Wagga businessman also said that at the time, he didn’t realise those documents might implicate him also.
“No, I didn’t [know], but obviously with hindsight and with your presentation, yes,” he told Mr Robertson.
Mr Robertson asked if even without the benefit of hindsight, he knew Maguire was asking him to do something very serious. Mr Elliott responded, “I agree now. I didn’t consider it at the time.”
“Are you seriously suggesting that you didn’t realise at the time that deleting records, immediately after Mr Maguire came unstuck before this Commission, would not be a serious matter? That’s not your serious evidence, is it?” pressed Mr Robertson.
Mr Elliott eventually conceded that “yes”, he knew at the time that it was a serious matter to destroy records in the face of an inquiry, and he did it with the view of deflecting the Commission from evidence that might implicate himself and Maguire.
On Wednesday during the third day of ICAC proceedings, the secretary for the NSW government Whip revealed that she has been storing Maguire’s computer hard drive in her Parliament House office after he asked her to have it “lost in the post” in 2018.
Ms Cartwright said she obtained the hard drive, which was from Maguire’s Parliament House computer, from Parliament House’s IT department.
“He, he said to me there was a hard drive that was coming from IT that had his name on it,” Ms Cartwright said.
“IT gave me the hard drive and I asked him … how he wanted it sent to him.”
Ms Cartwright was asked why the hard drive would be given to her, given that she wasn’t working for him at the time he resigned.
“Because he asked them to give it to me,” she replied.
When asked what instructions Maguire had given her, Ms Cartwright said, “…to post it. But, to post it but not, but, he said to post it, but it gets lost in the post.”
When asked to clarify, she confirmed that Maguire had asked her “to post it to him”, but “he said it gets lost in the post.”
Ms Cartwright said she took these instructions as a message not to post it, so kept the hard drive.
She told the Commission she still had it in the government Whip’s office, so ICAC Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl directed her to produce it.
When asked why she hadn’t informed the Commission of this evidence before now, Ms Cartwright said, “I can’t answer why I haven’t done that. It was something that was put in the office, I actually did even forget about it.”
She also said she “did not think” she had been assisting Maguire with “concealing potentially damaging material by hiding the hard drive and not drawing that to the attention of this Commission.”
The hearing was adjourned and Ms Cartwright was escorted to her Parliament Office by ICAC staff shortly after 1pm on Wednesday to retrieve the hard drive.
When the hearing re-commenced, Mr Robertson told the Commission that “the hard drive … has been secured” and that it might be subject to parliamentary privilege.