Former minister Ian Macdonald’s daughter Sacha joins ICAC scandal


Former minister Ian Macdonald’s daughter Sacha joins ICAC scandal

Andrew Clennell
The Daily Telegraph
March 04, 201312:00AM

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Sacha Macdonald (right) with a Chinese friend. Source: Supplied

THE daughter of disgraced former minister Ian Macdonald has been drawn into the ICAC scandal amid revelations she was a beneficiary of two players at the heart of the inquiry.

Sacha Macdonald was a Mongolia-based employee of North Asia Resources when it started in 2009, a company that appointed to its international advisory board the former union boss John Maitland.

Mr Maitland is the subject of an ICAC investigation after he made a profit of more than $10 million from the Doyle’s Creek mine Mr Macdonald approved in late 2008.

ICAC has also investigated whether Ms Macdonald’s tuition fees at university in Beijing were paid by Chinese businessman Alan Fang.

ICAC has heard Mr Fang was allegedly the man who was going to get the mining licence over Eddie Obeid’s farm before his connection with Mr Macdonald became too “hot”.

And Mr Fang is alleged to have paid for Ms Macdonald’s air fares and accommodation on a controversial 2008 trip to Dubai by Mr Macdonald, which led the minister to resign over an alleged expense rort in 2010, according to an account given to The Daily Telegraph. Mr Fang and his assistant Tina Xu were booked to make the controversial trip, organised by stud owner Darley after the minister’s handling of the horse flu crisis, but cancelled at the last minute.

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CHINESE businessman Alan Fang has proved one of the most critical witnesses to ICAC into rigged mine licences so far.

An email from the Darley organisation, from January 13, 2008, lists guests to be staying at Le Royal Meridien, with the ministerial party including Tianda Group chairman Alan Fang, his assistant Tina Xu, as well as Mr Macdonald, his wife Anita Gylseth and Ms Macdonald.

It was Ms Xu who allegedly faxed a bank advice to Mr Macdonald’s office showing how Ms Macdonald’s trip was paid for when government investigators were looking into it, sources say. “We got the information from Alan Fang’s office,” a former government source said.

There is no name present on the Hang Seng Bank receipt retained by the state government’s Internal Audit Bureau, with the transfer simply saying it is from the bank.

The IAB report from 2010 said the minister produced a copy of his daughter’s hotel account which did not “have a hotel letterhead and does not show payment”.

“The minister also provided a copy of a remittance advice dated 21 January, 2008, for the sum of $US3266.00 from the Hang Seng Bank in favour of Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa.”

Evidence tendered in the ICAC proceedings shows Mr Fang to have an extremely close relationship with Mr Macdonald, and was introduced by Mr Macdonald to senior NSW ministers and the premier. Mr Macdonald even appointed Mr Fang the NSW honorary consul to China.

When former premier Morris Iemma held a state dinner in 2007 for Chinese President Hu Jintao, Mr Macdonald lobbied for Mr Fang to be seated at Mr Jintao’s table but was blocked by Mr Iemma’s office after the Chinese President’s people expressed disquiet, former Iemma government sources have claimed.

Mr Fang flew Mr Macdonald on his private jet on a trip to China in 2007 to locations to meet local governors.

When Mr Macdonald accompanied Mr Iemma to China on one trip in 2007, an attendee at functions was Ms Macdonald. Those who met her on such trips confirm the minister’s daughter was always vague about her work.

She was at “a university in Beijing”. Later, when visiting Sydney she said she was living in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, but would not say what she was doing.

Staff at North Asia Resources in both Hong Kong and Mongolia confirmed Ms Macdonald began work with the company four years ago but finished about a year later.The Daily Telegraph attempted to contact Ms Macdonald via family members. Her mother Larissa Wasylenko initially refused to comment on whether Mr Fang helped with her daughter’s education and then later said: “Absolutely not and I’m hanging up because I really don’t want to speak to you over it.”

Ms Wasylenko would not comment on Sacha’s involvement in North Asia Resources, saying: “What part of I don’t want to talk to you don’t you understand?”

Step-mother Ms Gylseth said: “I think Sacha’s business is none of yours.”

When told about allegations Ms Macdonald’s tuition fees were paid for by Mr Fang, Ms Gylseth said: “Yeah right” before later saying: “It hasn’t been paid by him I’m quite sure.”

When asked if Mr Fang had paid Ms Macdonald’s costs on the Dubai trip, Ms Gylseth said: “I have no idea, you can ask Sacha or Ian.” She said she would pass on the message to Mr Macdonald.

Mr Macdonald’s former chief of staff Tony Hewson told ICAC he employed Ms Macdonald as an interpreter.

Mr Hewson confirmed he has worked for Tianda. Mr Macdonald has confirmed working as a consultant for Tianda in 2011 after leaving politics. “Ian Macdonald’s daughter did do some interpreting and assistance at a stall I had at Tianjin … she was a very attractive young lady and blonde which went over well with the Chinese,” Mr Hewson said.

Neither Mr Maitland nor Mr Macdonald returned several calls. The Daily Telegraph visited Tianda’s office in Sydney and telephoned his Hong Kong office but was told Mr Fang was unavailable for comment.
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