Union fraudster offers evidence for immunity

A FORMER union official at the centre of the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal could return to Australia as early as next week to assist a fresh police investigation.

The Victoria Police fraud squad is considering whether to grant immunity from prosecution to Ralph Blewitt in return for evidence he claims to have about the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an AWU association.

Mr Blewitt, who lives in Malaysia, has publicly admitted his involvement in fraud and has offered to provide detailed evidence about the purchase in 1993 of a Fitzroy unit with more than $100,000 from stolen union funds.

He claims to have never seen the unit before it was bought at auction by union crony Bruce Wilson, who used a power of attorney prepared by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, his then girlfriend and a solicitor at Slater & Gordon.

Ms Gillard on Wednesday denounced a report in The Australian newspaper that an AWU employee had been given $5000 in cash to pay into her bank account in June 1995.

The employee, Wayne Hem, repeated information he had given in 1996 to AWU national secretary Ian Cambridge, now a Fair Work Australia commissioner, about a range of transactions involving money taken from the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

Ms Gillard said the allegations were part of a smear campaign and contained ''not one substantiated allegation against me''.

''This matter has been trawled over for the best part of 20 years and at the end of it … there is not one finding of wrongdoing by me. And there is a reason for that; I didn't do anything wrong,'' she said.

Lawyer Bob Galbally, representing Mr Blewitt, said his client was ready to come to Melbourne immediately if police granted him a ''non-self-incriminating clause'' that ensured he would not be prosecuted for his role in the scandal.

Mr Galbally has provided Detective Sergeant John Macdonald, of the fraud squad, with an outline of the evidence Mr Blewitt would be willing to give.

An earlier Victoria Police investigation into the AWU was closed in early 1996 before full details emerged of the corrupt dealings involving the Workplace Reform Association, which was registered in Perth with legal advice from Ms Gillard. She says she had nothing to do with its operation after it was incorporated in 1992 and did not know it had been rorted until after this was discovered by officials including Mr Cambridge.

Mr Blewitt claimed earlier this week that Bruce Wilson had used him as his proxy to purchase the Fitzroy unit in which Wilson had lived, never paid rent and claimed an allowance for from the union.

''I got no money when he sold the property in February 1996 and I received no rent from the property at all,'' he said in an interview with the website of former Sydney broadcaster Michael Smith.

Mr Blewitt also claimed he did not sign the power of attorney used by Wilson until Wilson had visited him in Perth after the purchase of the property.

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The story Union fraudster offers evidence for immunity first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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