Executive officers of the Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council allegedly accepted $130,000 in cash and other benefits from Sydney developer, Mr Ron Medich, during negotiations over prime New South Wales south coast properties between 2005 and 2007.
The bribes were allegedly used to try and secure real estate, including a beachfront site worth millions, at below-market prices.
Former Chairman Mr Ron Mason and former co-ordinator Mr Ken Foster are accused of receiving payments from Mr Medich’s associate Mr Lucky Gattellari for facilitating negotiations between the land council, Mr Gattellari, Mr Medich Developments Pty Ltd and Waterview Pty Ltd. Payments to Mr Mason’s daughter, Ms Vanessa Mason, are also being investigated.
The scheme eventually fell through, but not before alleged corrupt payments were made. According to Counsel assisting the commission, Mr Geoffrey Watson, “The corrupt enterprise ultimately failed because none of the proposed deals at Wagonga were able to be finalised”.
Mr Gattellari has admitted to making the payments “to butter some people up”, but insisted that he was unaware that the payments were illegal.
Mr Medich denied involvement in the scheme and accused Mr Gattellari of lying at the anti-corruption hearing.
Separately, Mr Medich and Mr Gattellari have been charged with the murder of a Sydney businessman, Mr Michael McGurk, who was shot dead in September 2009.