Trust funnelled donations to Mayor, corruption probe hears

20th April 2017 10:27 AM
UPDATED 7:44 PM
Dr John Alexander Ryan photographed leaving the Crime and Conduct Commission public hearing into 2016 local elections. Dr John Alexander Ryan photographed leaving the Crime and Conduct Commission public hearing into 2016 local elections.

UPDATE: 5:40pm

AN EVERTON Park based accountant has told a corruption inquiry how more than $100,000 of cheques arrived at his office, without having prior contact with the senders.

The money, sent largely by property developers from across the Moreton Bay Region, was then used to fund the election campaign of Mayor Allan Sutherland. 

Kirby James Leeke revealed that Mr Sutherland's wife Gayle would directly email him invoices during the 2016 campaign and he would then decide whether to authorise payments.

The hearing heard unsolicited cheques of up to $20,000 were hand delivered to his office from multiple developers in the lead up to the March 19 elections.

He told the corruption watchdog he was solely responsible for authorising $118,000 worth of election funds to Mayor Allan Sutherland during the 2016 election campaign.

He also detailed his takeover as the Moreton Bay Futures Trust trustee along with Dr John Alexander Ryan.

The pair took over from 2008 mayoral candidate Bryan Galvin who established the trust in 2010.

As trustee, Mr Leeke was required to consult with a second trustee (Dr Ryan) to authorise payments, but when asked, said he didn't.

"No, no one else," he said.

"The trustee, if you read - I could have been a smart alec - but the trustee says all payments should be approved by two people.

"But it doesn't say, 'before it's paid', so I could have got it signed today if I saw John (Ryan) early enough.

"I wasn't intending to trivialise this commission."

Earlier Dr Ryan provided the hearing with a bizarre testimonial stating he had no idea he was a trustee of the Moreton Bay Futures Trust fund until police knocked on his door as a part of the current investigation.

This comes despite Dr Ryan signing and stamping multiple legal documents that appointing him as trustee.

"Well that might be as it appears, but I thought I was out of politics and all sorts in 2008, and do not recall signing that document," he said.

"I did not know until very recently when I had the interview by policemen that I was in any way involved after 2008 - that was a surprise to me," he said.

"I remind you it was handed to me by my solicitor of 30 years (Bryan Galvin) who is a family friend I trusted.

"And in the context of a medical examination had it thrust in front of me and didn't' have 15 minutes to read it and I signed - and I have no memory of signing it."

This came to the surprise of Queen's counsel Glen Rice who is the counsel assisting the public hearing.

"Surely doctor, you didn't just sign something that was thrust in front of you … without questioning what it was?" Mr Rice said.

"I did," Mr Ryan replied.

The hearing continues tomorrow as Mr Sutherland and Division 2 councillor Peter Flannery face the CCC.

It can be live streamed at http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/corruption/operation-belcarra-public-hearing/operation-belcarra-public-hearings.

EARLIER:

MORETON Bay Futures Trust trustee Dr John Alexander Ryan has told the Crime and Corruption Commission he had no idea he was the trustee of the political donor fund.

The CCC has commenced day three of the Operation Belcarra public hearings focusing on the conduct of candidates from the Moreton Bay Region, Gold Coast and Ipswich City councils at the 2016 local elections.

Moreton Bay Futures Trust donated $118,587 to Mayor Allan Sutherland's 2016 election campaign and was also his biggest donor in 2012 when Dr Ryan was a trustee.

The trust also made a loan of $5000 to Moreton's Deputy Mayor Mike Charlton during his 2012 election campaign - a loan which Mr Charlton has told the CCC he repaid in full. 

Dr Ryan told the hearing he was unaware he had signed a legal document making him the trustee and had no involvement with the trust's operations to date, despite agreeing to hold money for the trust.

There are multiple documents with his handwritten signature and practice stamp.

The trust's other trustee, Kirby James Leeke and town planner Timothy Joseph Connolly will also face the CCC today.

Mr Sutherland and Division 2 councillor Peter Flannery will take the witness box tomorrow, starting from 10am.

Alan Macsporran is the presiding officer of the hearing and Glen Rice is counsel assisting.

The hearing resumes at 2pm when the Moreton Futures Trust's other trustee Kirby Leeke is set to enter the witness box.