Ernest Wong (centre) arrives to give evidence at the NSW ICAC public inquiry, Operation Aero, on Wednesday. Picture: AAP
Ernest Wong (centre) arrives to give evidence at the NSW ICAC public inquiry, Operation Aero, on Wednesday. Picture: AAP

Ex-Labor MP ‘forgot’ lunch with Chinese billionaire

MOBILE phone records show exiled Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo held a "light lunch" at his luxury Mosman home with dumped MP Ernest Wong and ALP boss Jamie Clements just days after an infamous Chinese fundraising dinner.

The evidence, tendered to ICAC today, raised questions about Mr Wong's earlier evidence that he gave "a big bag of cash" to Mr Huang on the night of the dinner for later delivery to ALP Sussex Street bosses.

Grilled today about the lunch, Mr Wong said he had forgotten about it.

ICAC is examining whether Mr Wong "engaged in corrupt conduct as a public official" and whether steps were taken to conceal $100,000 allegedly raised at the Chinese dinner on 12 March 2015.

Ernest Wong (centre) arrives to give evidence at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) public inquiry on Wednesday, December 11. Picture: AAP
Ernest Wong (centre) arrives to give evidence at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) public inquiry on Wednesday, December 11. Picture: AAP

Over the past few months ICAC investigators have poured over the phone records of former ALP boss Jamie Clements.

Asked about the lunch at Mr Huang's home on 15 March, Mr Wong replied: "I don't even recall that I attended lunch myself at all."

Counsel assisting Mr Scott Robertson asked: "You accept that at the time you were sitting at the dinner on the 12 March 2015 you knew that a light lunch had been arranged for the following Sunday?"
"On the night I wouldn't have been able to remember any of those lunch appointments that I have," Mr Wong said.

Jamie Clements arrives during a break at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) public inquiry into allegations concerning political donations in Sydney, Monday, December 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
Jamie Clements arrives during a break at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) public inquiry into allegations concerning political donations in Sydney, Monday, December 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Mr Robertson said: "Are you seriously suggesting that it slipped your mind that you had arranged a meeting with the same Mr Clements, a light lunch?"

"That's not unusual at all."

Mr Robertson: "Mr Wong there was no big bag of cash at that dinner at all … no big bag of cash with tens of thousands of dollars?"

"Of course there were." he answered.

"The $100,000 did not come into existence until after the dinner?"

"Not at all."

Earlier, Mr Wong raised new evidence that he sometimes suffered "alcohol blackouts" and had had a few drinks at the night of the fundraiser, so was not clear in his mind about handing over the "big bag of cash" to Mr Huang.

Mr Wong agreed during his examination that he had "engaged in a scheme to get around NSW electoral laws" by giving around $20,000 to ALP aspirant and restaurant owner Jonathan Yee to use as expenses or buy tables for the infamous March 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner.

He accepted he did not declare this as an electoral donation.

Ernest Wong, left, and Chinese property developer billionaire Huang Xiangmo (second from right) pictured at the Chinese dinner on 12 March 2015.
Ernest Wong, left, and Chinese property developer billionaire Huang Xiangmo (second from right) pictured at the Chinese dinner on 12 March 2015.

Mr Robertson asked him: "You accept don't you … that in approximately $20,000 you engaged in conduct which was apt to conceal the true source of the money, namely you? Do you agree?"
"Yes," Mr Wong answered.

"You've been engaged in an attempt to get around the NSW electoral laws?"

"Yes, not intentionally though."

Mr Wong also gave Mr Yee another $3000 the same year to help in organising a campaign fundraiser for Kogarah ALP MP Chris Minns.

Mr Wong said he paid in cash as he always kept cash at home and he did not get a receipt.

"I always have cash in hand at home," Mr Wong said. "Those cash would sit at home and usually I would have around $8000 to $10,000 cash for emergency use."


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