Georges River and Hurstville Councillors Vince Badalati, Con Hindi and Philip Sansom are currently at the centre of an ICAC investigation where it has been revealed the pair took $170,000 in cash from property developers for planning concessions on two developments in Hurstville.
The inquiry is looking into whether the three Councillors took bribes in the form of cash and overseas trips from developers Ching Wah (Philip) Uy, Wensheng Liu and businessman Yuqing Liu, as well as conflicts of interest. The alleged bribes date back as far as 2014.
The two developments in question are a 75 unit complex on Treacy Street in Hurstville and the mixed-use Landmark Square development which is now known as MESA Hurstville.
Badalati has confirmed to the commission that he received $70,000 in cash from Uy, the Director of the construction company for the Treacy Street development in 2015 around the time the project was approved. Hindi admitted he also received cash from Uy. The pair received another $100,000 from Hindi in 2016.
“He opened his boot and gave us two bags each. (He said) ‘Thank you for your assistance on Landmark,” Badalati says.
Soon after, Hurstville Council went into administration and merged with Kogarah to form Georges River Council. Sansom was not re-elected, while Badalati and Hindi remained Councillors until 2021.
Assisting the commission is Zelie Heger, who says an all expenses paid trip to China in 2016 was used to influence the Councillors decisions on planning approval for both developments.
“The trip is important because it occurred only a week before Mr Hindi and Mr Badalati, along with Mr Sansom, voted on both the Treacy Street and Landmark Square developments at a council meeting on April 20,” she says.
Heger says that Baladati and Sansom engaged with Uy often in a social capacity, and failed to flag any potential conflicts of interest.
“That fact alone raises a potential conflict, given that from 2014, Mr Sansom and Mr Badalati were considering the Treacy Street developments in their capacities as councillors, but did not declare any conflict of interests in relation to those developments.”
The inquiry is still being undertaken.