A NSW Riverina RSL chief executive has told a corruption inquiry that a visa scheme allegedly suggested by former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire felt "a bit dodgy".
Wagga Wagga RSL chief executive Andrew Bell appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings yesterday and detailed how he came to meet alleged associates of Mr Maguire's at Sydney Airport to discuss a proposal to accept money to host Chinese visa applicants.
ICAC also heard that Wagga RSL paid almost $7250 in commissions to former Wagga restaurateur Gordon Tse, and $550 in fees to Mr Maguire's alleged company, in return for helping deliver nearly $98,000 worth of cutlery and furniture from China.
The inquiry heard Wagga RSL and its independent caterers did not go through with the proposals outlined at the meeting, which allegedly included Mr Maguire's business partner Phillip Elliott handing over $1000 cash as a down payment.
Mr Bell said he knew Mr Maguire through "business connections", that there was a "visa scheme" in 2013 he "thought would provide a Chinese worker" and "it was suggested by Mr Maguire".
Mr Bell said the RSL was offered a Chinese worker at "very little cost" with a $20,000 incentive via a "trio of proposals", with one applicant for the RSL and one each for its two caterers.
ICAC was told the scheme was discussed at Sydney Airport with G8wayinternational director Phillip Elliott and immigration agent Maggie Wang. Mr Bell testified he told Mr Elliott that the scheme was "a bit dodgy" before the meeting and the scheme "got dodgier" as it was described to him at the airport.
Ms Wang has been accused of running cash-for-visa schemes by other Riverina business owners.
Mr Elliott has claimed that G8way was run for the benefit of Mr Maguire.
Mr Bell told the inquiry that Wagga RSL caterer Tim Howe accepted $1000 in cash at the airport but later returned the money.
Mr Elliott, being a Wagga RSL director both then and now, was noted at a special RSL board meeting to have an "undeclared interest or duty" in representing both sides of the visa proposal.
Mr Bell said the then Wagga RSL president was "very unhappy" with Mr Elliott's conduct at the airport meeting and the board had been unaware until recently that he had also gained a commission from the Chinese cutlery and furniture deal.