NSW Liberal party received unlawful donations, Electoral Commission finds

A follow-up from a previous post: “The leak on NSW liberal donors” :

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 5.17.23 PMFrom ABC NEWS, 22 Sep 2016: The New South Wales Electoral Commission has found the state’s Liberal party received almost $600,000 in unlawful donations in the lead-up to the 2011 state election, including from property developers.

But after the party heeded demands to declare previously undisclosed donations, the Commission will now release more than $3.8 million it had frozen in public funding.

The Commission announced in March that it was withholding $4.4 million in election and administrative funding from the NSW Liberals, in the wake of revelations the party had used money from banned donors to help bankroll its 2011 state election campaign.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption had uncovered evidence that some figures in the party had used slush funds and the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation to funnel money to the campaign from property developers, who were banned from donating in New South Wales elections.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the New South Wales Electoral Commission said its own investigations had determined that a number of donations were unlawful.

“These include donations from prohibited donors (including property developers), anonymous donations and donations that exceeded the cap,” the Commission said.

It said it would deduct the value of the unlawful donations, which it calculated as $586,992, from the amount of public funding payable to the party.

It said that since the Liberal Party had now heeded its demands to disclose number of donations that were not previously reported, it would authorise the release of the balance of the money it had been withholding.

The Commission said it had accepted the declaration and published it on its website.

Meanwhile the Commission says it has recovered a $10,000 unlawful donation given to the former member for Charlestown Andrew Cornwell by a property developer.

Mr Cornwell quit Parliament in 2014 after admitting to the ICAC that he had accepted $10,000 from the then Lord Mayor of Newcastle Jeff McCloy, in the back of Mr McCloy’s Bentley in the lead up to the last election.

The Electoral Commission said it had written to a number of individuals, demanding repayment of unlawful donations.

It said Mr Cornwell had paid the $10,000 to the Electoral Commission on September 14, without admissions as to the nature of the donation.

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