Chris Hartcher event referred to ICAC

Former energy minister Chris Hartcher was the guest of honour at a "networking event" now referred to the ICAC. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Former energy minister Chris Hartcher was the guest of honour at a "networking event" now referred to the ICAC. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Details of a fundraising event at which Chris Hartcher was the guest of honour have been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption as the watchdog continues to probe the former energy minister's allegedly corrupt dealings with political donors.

Fairfax Media understands the referral relates to a "networking event" in July 2012 organised by a business entity called the Georges River Club, which promised members "sway with government".

Its inaugural function at Bankstown Paceway was also attended by East Hills MP Glenn Brookes, whose electorate officer Jim Daniel - now a Bankstown councillor - helped organise the event for his friend George Germanos, a Liverpool accountant.

According to emails sent to prospective members, joining the Georges River Club offered "an investment that will open up opportunities and provide access to marketing possibilities that are normally out of reach for most businesses".

"Membership of the GRC can provide you with so much more, for example, the opportunity to share ideas with other business leaders, influence policy and decision makers and have sway with government."

Gold memberships were offered for $5000, silver memberships for $2500 and bronze memberships for $1000. The event was held shortly before the September 2012 local government elections, at which Cr Daniel was elected.

On Friday, Cr Daniel confirmed he helped organise the event, at which a Harley-Davidson motorcycle was raffled. It is understood several local property developers were also in attendance.

"I definitely helped my mate get it up and running," Cr Daniel said. "It's a networking group. It's got nothing to do with the Liberal Party".

Asked where the money raised through memberships and at the event ended up, Cr Daniel said: "You'll have to ask [Mr Germanos]."

Mr Brookes said he attended the event "because I was invited".

"It's just a group of business people who come together from the local community."

Asked where the money went, Mr Brookes said: "I wouldn't have a clue." He added: "I think they donated it to charity."

However, Mr Germanos said no money was donated because the event and another held afterwards were unsuccessful and had left him out of pocket to the tune of about $5,500.

"No one accepted the memberships," he said. "The Georges River Club was a business networking event designed as an opportunity to attract clients to my accountancy business. Two events were held, both were losses. So I gave up on the idea".

Asked why then energy and resources minister Mr Hartcher attended, whose electorate is Terrigal on the Central Coast, Mr Germanos said there were a number of prominent people in attendance, including former radio host Jason Morrison who emceed. "People were jumping at the idea of supporting local businesses," Mr Germanos said.

Company documents show the Georges River Club exists solely as a registered business name to Mr Germanos' company Professional Housing Solutions.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating allegations Mr Hartcher and two other Central Coast MPs, Darren Webber and Chris Spence, solicited illegal donations for the Liberal Party through an alleged slush fund called Eightbyfive.

Mr Hartcher did not respond to a request for comment.

This story Chris Hartcher event referred to ICAC first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.