Ian Macdonald and former union boss John Maitland might be selling assets before ICAC makes a call on charges


Ian Macdonald and former union boss John Maitland might be selling assets before ICAC makes a call on charges

The Daily Telegraph
February 18, 201312:00AM

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The Orange property owned by former NSW minister Ian Macdonald. Source: Supplied

DISGRACED ex-minister Ian Macdonald and former union boss John Maitland are selling their large rural homes ahead of an ICAC inquiry into allegations Mr Macdonald set up a mining licence that benefited his mate to the tune of $10 million.

Last night there were calls for Premier Barry O’Farrell to stop the sales or have the proceeds frozen amid concerns the pair may be attempting to move their assets before any possible charges are laid as a result of the ICAC hearings.

Former CFMEU boss Mr Maitland – who made at least $10 million after Mr Macdonald set up the Doyle’s Creek “training mine” without tender in 2008 – is selling his 420ha property at auction on March 16, two days ahead of an ICAC hearing into the deal.

A real estate agent acting for Mr Macdonald confirmed his property in Orange was “under contract”.

The property on Canobolas Rd had been for sale for $960,000. He bought it in 2007 for $675,000.

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Agent Jim Oates said: “There’s a contract out on it. I don’t want to comment any more.”

Mr Maitland bought “Tara Park” at Bellbrook, near Kempsey for $1.575 million in January 2011, around the time he made a large windfall by selling out of shares in Doyle’s Creek.

ICAC hearings into the mine lease are set to begin on March 18.

Mr Maitland owns two other large properties – in Western Victoria and outside Kempsey.

Real estate agent Jamie Mainey confirmed it was Mr Maitland’s property for sale and declined to say how much he was seeking.

The property is owned by Mr Maitland’s firm Jonca Investments, the same company which owned shares in NuCoal when the Doyle’s Creek deal came through.

Mr Oates said he “didn’t know” if Mr Macdonald was selling an adjoining property.

In April 2012, a house in Strathallen Ave, Northbridge was sold by Mr Macdonald for $1.2 million.

Greens MP John Kaye demanded action from the Premier on both Mr Macdonald’s and Mr Maitland’s sales.

“I think (Mr) O’Farrell should be on the phone to the crime commission … and say ‘you guys should immediately investigate (Mr) Maitland’s assets and if you come up with a reasonable suspicion there are proceeds of serious crimes you should use your power … and go to the Supreme Court and apply for a freezing order immediately’.”

Opposition Leader John Robertson agreed, saying: “Barry O’Farrell should seek urgent advice on whether the sale of these properties can be stopped.”

ICAC is yet is hand down the findings of its inquiry and no charges have been laid against Macdonald or Maitland.

But Mr O’Farrell refused to intervene last night, a spokesman saying: “The Crime Commission has existing powers in this area and is monitoring the ICAC proceedings closely.”

Mr Macdonald told the ICAC hearings this month that he found himself in dire financial straits when he lost his ministerial job and he owed 80 per cent on his Orange property and 50 per cent on his Northbridge property.

Despite this, he took up an option to buy another large property in Orange in April 2011, buying it for $475,000.

The ICAC has heard Mr Macdonald received “loans” from business partner John Gerathy worth $450,000 over a couple of years and there was no security put on those loans until Mr Gerathy was summoned in May 2012 to produce financial records to ICAC.

There have also been allegations Mr Macdonald received tens of thousands for decisions and that he was to reap $4 million out of a mining deal to approve a mine over Eddie Obeid’s farm.

ICAC Commissioner David Ipp has even referred to the alleged Macdonald payments as “ICAC loans”, telling the commission last week: “We have a saying here that an ICAC loan is a transaction which is a gift but is really described as a loan and which the security documents put in to create a sham, a disguise.”

Mr Maitland and Mr Macdonald did not return calls.

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