John Woodman told OBAc he donated generously to both sides of politics.
John Woodman told OBAc he donated generously to both sides of politics.

Developer caught boasting: paying off Aboriginal leaders

A FERRARI-LOVING developer has been caught on tape boasting about paying off Aboriginal leaders so they turned a blind eye to heritage claims.

John Woodman was caught calling Aboriginal leaders "galahs" who were "on the take" in a series of covert recordings played to an anti-corruption hearing.

In an October 2018 phone call, he told Exford Waters landowner Bill Green that he would take $1000 to a meeting with an Aboriginal leader.

He said leaders of Aboriginal committees could be paid off to "entice" other members to approve cultural heritage management plans needed for developments

Responding to questions from Mr Green about "the Abos", Mr Woodman said "all these people are desperate if you know what I mean ... for money".

"I know he him well enough to be able to take a thousand dollars along for instance and give it to him," he said.

Mr Woodman estimated during the call that his client might have to fork out $10,000 and claimed that the Aboriginal groups did not give a "rat's arse" about preserving their ancestors' heritage.

He described them as "as cunning as s---house rats".

"They couldn't give a rat's arse about their ancestors, that's just the greatest load of horseshit I've ever heard … bullshit."

Mr Woodman denied that he typically paid off public officials or Aboriginal groups, saying he could "only think of one other occasion where we made direct communication with a community group".

In a gotcha moment, a call in which Mr Woodman told another client that "you were able to pay them off" "in those days" was then played.

In the intercepted call to client Alf Marriott, he detailed $800 daily payments to Aboriginal "monitors" during excavation works at a Martha Cove development.

"They used to turn up at 9 o'clock, you 'd give them $800 and they'd go away for the day," he said.

Sam Aziz.
Sam Aziz.

Mr Woodman is facing a fourth straight day of questioning as IBAC probes corruption allegations engulfing him and former Casey Mayor Sam Aziz.

Earlier Mr Woodman has admitted to signing a "totally sham" contract with former suburban mayor, Sam Aziz.

The state's anti-corruption commission has heard that Mr Woodman signed a contract with the former Casey Mayor to hold $600,000 on his behalf, and return it over time with interest.

But another contract was later written, under Mr Aziz's "instructions", to claim the deal was only worth of $370,000.

Under questioning, Mr Woodman admitted that the second contract was a sham.

"I wasn't sure at the time that I signed this document … it was a fraud," he said.

"Mr Aziz had given me the money to lend and it seemed to me that he wanted to change the document then.

"I didn't believe that it was something that I should go into great detail or question of."

Mr Woodman claimed he naively failed to ask Cr Aziz more questions about why the contract needed to be altered - a claim challenged by both counsel assisting Michael Tovey QC and IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich.

Mr Redlich questioned why Mr Woodman would not probe the circumstances, given he claimed to have had no "personal relationship" with Cr Aziz at the time.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission has also heard that Mr Woodman used "code words" to describe "clandestine" cash payments to Cr Aziz.

Mr Woodman and his political lobbyist, former Liberal MP Lorraine Wreford, discussed the $2000 payments to Cr Aziz, which the developer said were interested payments.

WhatsApp messages reveal the pair referred to the payments as "suitcase" and "package".

But Mr Woodman denied that the codewords were used to mask the "clandestine" payments, or that Ms Wreford and Cr Aziz were acting like drug dealers.

"It was more of a jocular interpretation of what was to take place," he said.

"It thought it was a regular interest payment between myself and Mr Aziz.

"The reference to suitcase or package was not meant to be a clandestine alternative to the word cash".

He later added: "it goes back to the face that suitcases with cash in it is the most unusual (of) circumstances."

monique.hore@news.com.au



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