The regional gun club at the center of the investigations of the New South Wales corruption watchdog incurred “costs” to secure its $ 5.5 million government grant that was so substantial it rocked its financial situation in 2016.
The Australian Clay Target Association’s 2016 annual report states that the shooting club “Application accepted for a grant of $ 5.5 million” had been associated with unspecified “significant costs”.
These unspecified “costs” are listed as having occurred in calendar year 2016 and as one of the reasons the shooting club, ACTA, saw its profits drop by more than $ 120,000 in 2016. .
Still, documents previously released by the ICAC showed that it was the NSW government – not the shooting club – that paid for the club to prepare their bid for the grant, including a “Business case” to undertake.
New South Wales government documents from 2017 state:
“The GHD consultants were engaged by the Department of Industry to conduct a business case for the proposal in consultation with the developer (ACTA). “
An ACTA official told the ICAC that in mid-2016, the shooting club was informed by the NSW Office of Sport that it had received a grant of $ 40,000 for:
“have a business case study done to present to the government.”
In January 2016, Daryl Maguire wrote on behalf of ACTA to then-treasurer Gladys Berejiklian (and two other NSW ministers) requesting the multi-million dollar grant.
In December 2016, a New South Wales government fund overseen by then-treasurer Berejiklian set aside the $ 5.5 million, although the shooting club had yet to submit formal proposal.
In August 2017, the $ 5.5 million grant was approved after intervention by Berejiklian, who then became NSW Premier.
The grant was for a new clubhouse and convention center that can accommodate 1,000 people at the gun club premises in Wagga Wagga, about 250 kilometers west of Canberra.
Despite their “significant” size, there are no specific details provided in the 36-page document on the “costs” of the grant, so it is not clear what they were specifically intended for, or where the money was. directed.
At ICAC hearings last year, Maguire admitted he secretly operated a company that the ICAC said helped the gun club buy 1,300 chairs for the convention center from China. .
Yet the ACTA “significant costs” reports for calendar year 2016 appear to have been incurred long before this trip.
As of December 31, 2016, ACTA was still more than seven months away from formal approval of the $ 5.5 million grant – and even further from the start of construction of the convention center, let alone its completion. .
ACTA told us it was unable to comment because the matters were under investigation by the NSW Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ICAC).
Monday, The Horn revealed that the shooting club had actually applied for the grant for several years before it was approved following Maguire’s 2016 approach to the NSW government.
It was also revealed that the shooting club said the agreement ‘would never have been possible’ without Daryl Maguire, the local Liberal MP for NSW at the time.
In October of last year, it dramatically emerged that Berejiklian and Maguire had a secret relationship between at least 2015 and August 2020.
After 19 years as an MP for Wagga Wagga, Maguire was forced to resign from parliament in April 2018 after an ICAC investigation, Operation Delta, revealed that he had secretly requested bribes from a major Chinese real estate developer.
Last year, the ICAC announced that it had launched a second investigation into Maguire’s secret business dealings, this one codenamed Operation Keppel.
A four-week series of public hearings in Operation Keppel took place late last year, where the secret Berejiklian-Maguire relationship emerged.
Two weeks ago, on October 1, the ICAC announced that it had expanded Operation Keppel and was now investigating Berejiklian – as well as Maguire – and that it would hold a second round of public hearings.
The ICAC said it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the $ 5.5 million grant to the shooting club and another grant to the Conservatory of Music, also in Wagga Wagga.
Berejiklian immediately announced that she would resign, voluntarily, both as Premier of New South Wales and from Parliament entirely.
An investigation is underway to find out whether Berejiklian has engaged in an irregularity, such as taking behind-the-scenes action to benefit Maguire, her secret lover, financially or politically.
The second cycle of Operation Keppel begins Monday and the ICAC today released a witness list for the first week of the three-week hearings.
Among those called to testify are Berejiklian’s predecessor as NSW Premier Mike Baird, current NSW Deputy Premier Stuart Ayres, and Chris Hanger of the Department of Regional NSW.
Witnesses are not accused of any fault.
Only Berejiklian and Maguire were announced by the ICAC as under investigation.
ACTA’s 2016 annual report says the club has shown “A profit of $ 250,805 against $ 378,937 in 2015” – a decrease of $ 128,132.
Former ACTA National President Robert Nugent wrote:
The difference came mainly from post-Olympic promotion, legal and restructuring fees, computer and software updates and costs associated with the successful bid for a $ 5.5 million grant were also significant.
It is expected that the grant will allow the construction of a first-class clubhouse with catering and convention facilities on the national grounds.
This development will be widely used at our major events and will be made available to the public as a source of income for the Association to help ease the pressure on ongoing membership fees.
While these costs are “significant” and a reason the shooting club has seen its profits drop by a third, they are not specifically disclosed or detailed in the annual report.
The annual report includes ACTA’s 2016 financial statements, which have been audited by Tudor and Company and span seven pages.
This includes aggregate financial information, which includes an income statement, a statement of cash flows, a statement of changes in equity and a statement of financial position.
Tudor and Company’s audit statement contains a disclaimer, stating that “Additional financial data” is shown on page 23.
The auditor says that the information is ‘agree’ with information recorded in ACTA’s books, but that its audit “Did not cover all the details of the additional financial data”.
“We do not give any guarantee of accuracy or reliability with regard to the data provided”, writes the auditor.
The “Additional financial data” is presented as “Profit and loss account – unaudited”.
It provides a list of the club’s income and expenses, but is detailed in more detail than the other verified statements.
The report states that the decline in profits between 2015 and 2016 was:
‘… mainly post-Olympic promotion, legal and restructuring fees, computer and software updates and costs associated with the successful bid for a $ 5.5 million grant …’
The annual report shows IT expenses of $ 48,271 for 2016 (compared to a gain of $ 784 the previous year).
There is no “legal fee” listed, but there is a line item called “Consulting and professional fees”, although these costs are recorded as decreasing during the year. They were $ 23,207 in 2016, up from $ 31,251 in 2015.
There is no “Olympic promotion” category but there is an “advertising” category and a “promotion” category.
In 2016, promotion costs amounted to $ 34,657, compared to $ 36,616 the previous year.
Advertising costs in 2016 were recorded at $ 43,640, compared to $ 19,245 in 2015.
“Restructuring charges” are recorded at $ 0 in 2016 and at $ 18,877 in 2015.
Anthony Klan is an investigative journalist and editor of The Klaxon. You can follow him on Twitter @Anthony_Klan.
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