ICAC: No tears from Nathan Tinkler

NATHAN Tinkler’s dim view of the Independent Commission Against Corruption did not improve after the financially troubled mining magnate spent two hours in a windowless conference room waiting to give evidence.

By 4pm  yesterday,  he and his minder decided to call it a day as the current witness was still being cross-examined about  his Ulladulla honeymoon.

‘‘It’s been character assassination for three weeks and I am looking forward to putting an end to it,’’ Mr Tinkler said crossly as he left the ICAC and made his way across Castlereagh Street.

Before disappearing into the back entrance of the Sheraton on the Park, Mr Tinkler said: ‘‘I won’t be using any of her crocodile tears tomorrow, I can tell you that.’’

The embattled miner was referring to the sometimes teary evidence given recently by the former Labor MP for Newcastle, Jodi McKay, who  said  Mr Tinkler had tried to bribe her to secure her backing for his proposed billion-dollar coal terminal at Newcastle. 

When she told him she could not accept donations from him because developers were prohibited donors, Ms McKay said: ‘‘His immediate reply was, ‘I have hundreds of employees and I can get around the rules that way’.’’

On hearing that Mr Tinkler’s company and her Labor colleague and former ports minister Joe Tripodi were behind a smear campaign to damage her re-election chances for the March 2011 state election, Ms McKay began to cry.

The ICAC is also investigating allegations that Mr Tinkler’s  company, Buildev, paid $66,000 to a Liberal Party slush fund, Eightbyfive, before the  election in exchange for favourable treatment from then shadow energy minister Chris Hartcher.

When the commission started investigating the fund, Mr Tinkler emailed a colleague on April 19, 2013: ‘‘Who is ICAC?’’ The reply prompted him to respond: ‘‘Oh mate ur f---ing kidding me ...’’

Mr Tinkler’s solicitor, Harland Koops,  complained to the inquiry yesterday that his client had been waiting for days to give evidence.

‘‘Mr Tinkler changed his travelling arrangements to accommodate the commission,’’ Mr Koops said. ‘‘He’s now been waiting for two days.’’

‘‘Is he in a hurry to go somewhere?’’ Commissioner Megan Latham asked. ‘‘Yes, he’s in a hurry to go back to where he resides in Singapore,’’ Mr Koops replied.

‘‘Well, he can do that after tomorrow. We’ll get to him tomorrow,’’ Ms Latham said.

Former police minister Mike Gallacher, who was previously the minister for the Hunter, resigned from the cabinet this month after it was alleged at the inquiry that he ‘‘hatched a corrupt scheme’’ with Buildev executive Darren Williams to channel illegal donations into the fund.

The money was paid by Mr Tinkler’s horse stud, Patinack Farm, in what the inquiry has heard was a sham to hide the fact that Buildev was making payments in breach of the 2009 ban on developers donating to political parties.

Newcastle Liberal MP Tim Owen said  on Monday that he would not recontest his seat  because it was ‘‘highly likely’’ that Buildev had contributed to his election campaign without his knowledge.

This story ICAC: No tears from Nathan Tinkler first appeared on Newcastle Herald.