Australian NSW Premier resigns after corruption watchdog launches probe

SYDNEY, (Reuters) – New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned on Friday, shortly after the state’s corruption watchdog said it was investigating whether Berejiklian was involved in conduct that “constituted or involved a breach of public trust”.

Berejiklian at a news conference said the issues being investigated were “historical matters”.

“I state categorically I have always acted with the highest level of integrity” she said.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement on its website that it will hold further public hearings as part of its ongoing investigation, Operation Keppel, on Oct. 18.

That investigation has already heard Berejiklian was in a secret relationship with a state legislator who is the focus of its corruption investigation. [nL4N2H30PI]

The ICAC statement said the scope of the commission’s investigation had widened, and includes “whether, between 2012 and 2018, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP engaged in conduct that constituted or involved a breach of public trust by exercising public functions in circumstances where she was in a position of conflict between her public duties and her private interest as a person who was in a personal relationship with the then NSW Member of Parliament, Mr Daryl Maguire”.

The potential breach involved grant funding promised to community organisations in Maguire’s electorate of Wagga Wagga.

Maguire told an inquiry last year he had received envelopes full of thousands of dollars in cash at his parliament office as part of a scheme for Chinese nationals to fraudulently acquire visas.