ICAC: Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian found to be corrupt and guilty of ‘grave misconduct’

Jun 29, 2023
ICAC finds former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian corrupt. Source: Getty

The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has released its long-awaited findings on the investigation into former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.

The report, which was delivered to parliament Thursday morning, concludes that both Berejiklian and Maguire engaged in corrupt conduct.

The investigation focused on government grants awarded to two organisations in Wagga Wagga, with Berejiklian’s personal relationship with Maguire being a key factor in the findings.

It was discovered that Berejiklian failed to disclose her personal relationship with Maguire while making decisions related to funding for the Australian Clay Target Association(ACTA) and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

ICAC deemed this a “breach of public trust” and a conflict of interest that potentially influenced her official duties.

Berejiklian argued that as the premier, the ministerial code – outlines the expected standards of conduct for ministers and how they fulfil their duties–did not apply to her.

However, ICAC rejected Berejiklian’s argument and found that she breached the ministerial code by failing in her duty “to act honestly and in the public interest”, and that prioritising her personal interest over her public duty was “serious corrupt conduct”.

It found Berejiklian was “influenced by the existence of her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire, or by a desire on her part to maintain or advance that relationship, in connection with funding promised and awarded” to the ACTA.

During the ICAC hearings, tapped phone calls between the pair were also played,  bringing to light conversations between Berejiklian and Maguire, wherein Berejiklian seemingly ignored discussions about potential corrupt activities.

The report highlighted her refusal to discharge her duty to report her suspicions as another instance of serious corrupt conduct.

ICAC found that “Ms Berejiklian engaged in serious corrupt conduct by refusing to discharge her duty under section 11 of the ICAC Act to notify the Commission of her suspicion that Mr Maguire had engaged in activities which concerned, or might have concerned, corrupt conduct.”

While ICAC has found Berejiklian guilty of corruption, it has not recommended criminal charges against her.

“Ultimately, the Commission is of the view that Ms Berejiklian’s conduct, while it constitutes or involves a substantial breach of the ministerial code, is not so serious that it could be demonstrated to merit criminal punishment (the fifth element of the offence of misconduct in public office) and therefore does not reach the very high bar required to make out the offence of misconduct in public office.”

There was also no evidence found to suggest that Berejiklian obtained a private financial advantage from her actions.

Berejiklian stepped down from her position as Premier back in 2021 after the ICAC disclosed an investigation into her potential involvement in a “breach of public trust” by failing to report Maguire’s alleged misconduct.

Since then, the former premier has repeatedly denied any alleged wrongdoings.

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