NSW Developer Donations: Name swap ‘to fool press’

 

The Sydney Morning Herald,
smh.com.au

September 24, 1999

Author: BRUCE WALKLEY

       Property developer Mr Lang Walker suggested changing the name of a company involved in a subdivision “to throw the press off the trail” after the Herald  revealed the company had donated $220,000 to political parties, a judge was told yesterday.

       Mr Bob Ellicott, QC, said in the Supreme Court that Ibenmore Pty Ltd‘s name was changed on January 15, 1996, to Rosamond Pty Ltd.

       He said that in the previous August the Herald  had revealed the donations by Ibenmore, set up to run a joint venture between Mr Walker’s companies and a landowner at Helensburgh, and had associated the little-known company with Mr Walker.

       The Helensburgh landowner, Mr Bob Hogarth, and his family companies are suing Mr Walker, his companies and a senior executive over their failure to deliver on alleged undertakings to use their political influence to get approval for the 1,300-house subdivision on the edge of the Royal National Park.

       Mr Ellicott said Mr Hogarth and his son-in-law, Mr Geoff Kidd, found out about the donations in April 1995 when they were going through an Ibenmore accounts ledger.

       They found that Ibenmore had given $100,000 to the Labor Party on March 3, $100,000 to the Liberal Party a week later and $20,000 to the National Party on March 20.

       Mr Ellicott told Justice Clifford Einstein that Mr Hogarth’s evidence would be that when Mr Walker asked him about the possibility of making political donations he replied that he would not object to giving $5,000 to the Labor Party.

       “We’ll say that they were using Ibenmore as a front to make political donations on behalf of Walker Corporation,” Mr Ellicott said.

       Mr Ellicott told the judge he believed the evidence would reveal “acts of duplicity, impropriety, false accounting and deviousness” by the Walker interests, whose evidence should be treated with “considerable scepticism”.

       Mr Alec Shand, QC, is expected to open the defence case when the trial resumes on Monday.

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