Australia

Home Affairs assisting ‘cash for visas’ probe

Home Affairs is investigating documents it holds in relation to disgraced former NSW MP Daryl Maguire.Officials were grilled about the “cash for visas” scandal during a Senate estimates hearing on Monday.The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is conducting a probe into allegations that businessmen in the Riverina supported false visa applications for Chinese nationals…

Home Affairs is investigating documents it holds in relation to disgraced former NSW MP Daryl Maguire.

Officials were grilled about the “cash for visas” scandal during a Senate estimates hearing on Monday.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is conducting a probe into allegations that businessmen in the Riverina supported false visa applications for Chinese nationals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash.

Mr Maguire, who last week gave evidence to an ICAC hearing, revealed he received money from the scheme at his parliamentary office, which he also used to facilitate business dealings.

Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo told a Senate committee it was collaborating with ICAC on the matter.

He also confirmed that Mr Maguire had made representations about the scandal to either Home Affairs officials or Federal MPs.

“As matters are unveiled as it were through ICAC we are cross referencing our own holdings,” Mr Pezzullo said.

“We are in discussions with ICAC to assist them.”

Mr Pezzullo said Home Affairs had not launched an internal investigation into the matter, adding it was taking a cautious approach to ensure the department did not cut across ICAC’s investigation.

“I can advise this committee that certain individuals, not Mr Maguire … associated with the matter I’ll say have come to attention previously,” he said.

Mr Pezzullo said the alleged actions undermined the public’s trust in the management of the visa and immigration program.

“We will get to the point of working out how many visas related to how many physical persons over what time period,” Mr Pezzullo said.

“If it’s pertinent to the enforcement of federal laws, we’ll be taking action I can assure you, independently and in any event, but obviously in a way that doesn’t cut across or impinge upon the ICAC proceedings.

“We’re not waiting but we’re working in parallel.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian became involved in the saga after she told an ICAC hearing she had a relationship with Mr Maguire.

But she rejected claims she knew about Mr Maguire’s business deals.

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