Councillors accepted bags of cash from property developer, inquiry hears

“From his boot, he got a bag out and gave it to me. He said, this is for your help on Treacy Street. I was surprised. I said ‘why?’ And he said ‘just take it’.

Badalati said he had later called Hindi and said: “Philip gave me money in regards to Treacy Street.”

He said in his evidence that Hindi had “eventually” admitted he also received cash from Uy.

“My belief at the time was that it was Wensheng Liu’s money,” Badalati said.

Badalati told the inquiry Uy met him and Hindi at a park in Rhodes on another occasion in 2016 and had given them $100,000 in cash each.

“He opened his boot and gave us two bags each. [He said] ‘Thank you for your assistance on Landmark’.

“At the time I didn’t think either way whether it was for work, or assistance, already given, or the future. A month later, council was put into administration.”

All three councillors served on the former Hurstville council before it merged with the former Kogarah council in 2016. Sansom, a Labor councillor-turned-independent, was not re-elected to the merged Georges River Council. Badalati, a Labor councillor, and Hindi, a Liberal, both won spots on the new council which they held until 2021.

The hearing was told the ICAC would closely examine the circumstance of a trip Badalati, Hindi and Hindi’s wife – a real estate agent – took to China with Uy in April 2016, and who paid for the councillors’ expenses on the trip.

“The trip is important because it occurred only a week before Mr Hindi and Mr Badalati, along with Mr Sansom, voted on both the Treacy Street and Landmark Square developments at a council meeting on April 20,” Heger told the inquiry in her opening submissions.

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In her opening remarks, Heger said that, since at least 2007, Badalati and Sansom had met up with Uy in China or Hong Kong fairly regularly, and they spent weekends together “eating, drinking, doing karaoke”.

“Mr Sansom has described these as ‘boys weekends’,” Heger said.

“That fact alone raises a potential conflict, given that from 2014, Mr Sansom and Mr Badalati were considering the Treacy Street developments in their capacities as councillors, but did not declare any conflict of interests in relation to those developments.”

The inquiry continues in front of Commissioner Stephen Rushton.

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