Developer warned to be truthful to ICAC

A developer has told the ICAC that former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong gave him a parliamentary pass.
A developer has told the ICAC that former NSW Labor MP Ernest Wong gave him a parliamentary pass.

The head of a property development company has admitted he is close friends with a former NSW Labor MP who allegedly gave him a security pass to come and go from state parliament.

Wu International Investments director Alex Wood told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday that Ernest Wong organised the Macquarie Street pass so he could have weekly or fortnightly meetings with the then-upper house MP.

Mr Wood - previously known as Mr Wu - told the inquiry he knew Mr Wong was a government official but wasn't aware of his specific role because he had "no interest in politics".

Speaking with the aid of a Cantonese interpreter, Mr Wood said Mr Wong wanted to train him to become a "future leader for the Chinese community in Australia".

The inquiry heard that Mr Wood regarded Mr Wong as a "senior" whom he respected but denied they were personal friends.

He later admitted to the inquiry they were good friends and still are.

Mr Wood was questioned about the now infamous 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor fundraising dinner and whether Mr Wong asked him to arrange for two Wu International Investment employees to falsely state they each donated $5000.

The company boss denied the allegation and said if the request had happened it would have been handled by his deputy general manager Quanbao Liao.

"I really did not know. If this had been the case it was handled by Dr Liao," he told the ICAC.

The ICAC is examining whether Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo, now banned from Australia, was the true source of $100,000 said to be donated by 12 people at the March 2015 CFL dinner.

Mr Huang, a property developer, was prohibited by law from making donations to NSW political parties.

Two donations were disclosed as being from people associated with Wu International, including former employee Steve Tong who denied ever making a donation. The second was Dr Liao, who in 2018 took his own life.

Mr Wood was quizzed about a conversation with Mr Tong who came to him angry that his name had been used fraudulently for a donation.

During the conversation Mr Tong alleged that Mr Wood or his father used his name for the donation, the inquiry heard.

Mr Wood agreed the conversation happened but couldn't recall when.

Chief Commissioner Peter Hall QC warned Mr Wood he was "digging a very deep hole for himself" and to be truthful in his answers.

"Do you know how many items you have said I don't recall today?" the chief commissioner said.

"It must be 100 times.

"You are not doing yourself any good by trying to make up answers."

Mr Wood is expected to continue giving evidence on Thursday.

Australian Associated Press