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ICAC witness Monica Hao given exemption to leave Australia by ABF despite being called for evidence

A migration agent with links to disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire’s cash-for-visa scheme left the country before she could give evidence.

A migration agent summoned to give evidence in the ICAC investigation against disgraced former NSW MP Daryl Maguire was granted an exemption to leave Australia before she took the witness stand.

Monica Hao, an alleged collaborator in the former Wagga Wagga MP’s cash-for-visa scam was given ICAC summons in July to give evidence in Operation Keppell in September, but departed Australia for Dubai on August 19.

At that time, Australian citizens and permanent residents needed an exemption to leave the country due to Covid-19 border restrictions.

It’s understood the Australian Border Force was never notified Ms Hao was the subject of an ICAC summons, and was not on the national movement alert list.

In an exhibit submitted to the ICAC, Ms Hao’s lawyer confirmed he had had not been able to get in touch with his client despite multiple attempts to do so.

It’s understood Ms Hao is still overseas.

Counsel assisting ICAC, Stuart Robertson, said evidence received in previous inquiries suggested that Ms Hao had information about Mr Maguire’s role in an illegitimate scheme which meant wealthy Chinese nationals were able to buy their way into Australia.

Maggie Wang had previously told the ICAC that Chinese visa applicants were “mostly sourced” from Ms Hao’s database.

An ICAC spokesperson said they could not comment on ongoing investigative matters.

Australian Border Force chief Michael Outram told Sky News there was no way for the ABF to know Ms Hao was a person of interest for ICAC.

“The ICAC works in secrecy … and nobody in the ABD would have known anyway this person was a witness and going to appear in front of one of their hearings,” he said.

“My office don’t have the power to stop them leaving. What we would do is ring the police force or the ICAC and say ‘this person’s at the border now, we’ve got them in our customs control area, what do you want us to do’.

“If they said prevent them from leaving, we’d say ‘you probably need to come down here then and arrest the person.’”

He added that the ICAC did not inform, or ask the ABF, to monitor for Ms Hao’s departure.

“Let me tell you, unequivocally, the Australian Border Force was not aware and nor should we have been because they work in secrecy that this person was going to be summons to appear in front of an ICAC hearing,” he told Sky News.

“They were not on the alert system as requiring the Australian Border Force take any action whatsoever at the border should they decide to leave the country.”

 But, opposition home affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally however said the federal government had “serious questions” to answer about how Ms Hao was allowed to leave the country.

“How on earth did Australian Border Force give a witness in an ICAC inquiry into a Liberal Party cash-for-visa scandal, run by Gladys Berejiklian’s secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire, permission to leave the country?” Senator Keneally said.

“It’s either absolute incompetence or something more sinister.”

Senator Keneally said it was another piece of evidence that suggested corruption within the Morrison government, and again called for a national anti-corruption commission.

“The only way to bring transparency and integrity back to government is to throw Mr Morrison and his government out,” she said.

Mr Outram said any suggestion that the ABF lacked integrity or engaged in sinister behavior was offensive.

Mr Maguire told the ICAC last year he had used his public office for personal profit, and had received thousands of dollars through the scheme.

During his evidence last year, it came to light that former premier Gladys Berejiklian had been involved in a secret relationship with the MP.

Ms Berejiklian spent a day and a half giving evidence to the ICAC earlier this month.

The Australian Border Force was contacted for comment.


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