ICAC confirms Awabakal land council inquiry to begin this month

THE Independent Commission Against Corruption will hold a public inquiry later this month as part of an investigation into allegations against the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council. 

The watchdog on Wednesday confirmed it would hold the inquiry on March 26, expecting it to run for approximately three weeks. A witness list is expected to be published before proceedings begin. 

Operation Skyline, the name given to the investigation, was tasked with examining whether any of the Aboriginal land council’s board directors acted dishonestly or in breach of their duty in several deals. 

Those deals involve proposals from 2014 to 2016 for the sale and development of Awabakal properties. 

ICAC said in a statement it was investigating whether retaining law firm Knightsbridge North Lawyers or anyone else to act in respect of the sale and development scheme was done correctly, as well as dealings with several other firms. 

They include “Sunshine Property Investment Group Pty Ltd, Sunshine Warners Pty Ltd, Solstice Property Corporation Pty Ltd and Advantage Property Experts Syndications Pty Ltd and/or Advantage Property Syndications Ltd; and whether they received any financial or other benefits as a reward or payment for their involvement in, or for their assistance or services rendered in relation to, the Sale and Development Scheme or any connected matter.”

“The Commission is also examining whether any person or persons encouraged or induced any Awabakal LALC Board director to dishonestly or partially exercise any of their official functions in respect of the Sale and Development Scheme and any other land council property, or otherwise engaged in conduct connected with corrupt conduct within the meaning of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988,” it said in a statement. 

Chief Commissioner Peter Hall QC will preside at the public inquiry, and counsel assisting the Commission will be Dr Nicholas Chen SC and Juliet Curtin.

More to come.