Developer spent hundreds on dining out with mayor
A prominent Queensland restaurateur has testified that the man behind a proposed Ipswich development racked up more than $880 on meals with then mayor Paul Pisasale.
John Gambaro, who is the director of Brisbane's Gambaro Seafood Restaurant, Black Hide and Persone, confirmed to jurors in a Brisbane District Court corruption trial that Melbourne developer Christopher Pinzone was sent the bill for three meals between March 24 and April 8 in 2017.
Brisbane barrister Sam Di Carlo has pleaded not guilty to one count of official corruption by providing restaurant meals, cash, profit share and services from sex workers to Mr Pisasale in exchange for his support of Mr Pinzone's proposed development in Ipswich's south.
The jury on Thursday was shown "VIP customer" receipts for a $308 meal that included peeled prawns, goldband snapper and oysters, a $176 meal including Angus T-bone steak and shiraz and a $339.50 meal including eye fillet, linguini marinara and Tasmanian Tolpuddle Pinot Noir.
Mr Gambaro said Mr Pisasale was "well known to us as a family friend and a very good supporter of the restaurant".
Crown prosecutor Caitlin Penfold asked if all three receipts were from when Mr Pisasale attended his restaurants.
"Correct," Mr Gambaro said.
The receipts also contained a handwritten note to open an account for Mr Pinzone but Mr Gambaro said that was "never" done.
Ms Penfold asked Mr Gambaro if he was aware that Mr Pinzone attended Gambaro Seafood Restaurant on April 8, 2017 and "paid $550 towards his unpaid bills".
"Correct ... we believe there is still an outstanding amount," Mr Gambaro replied.
Di Carlo's barrister Saul Holt has argued there is no evidence to show money or inducements were actually handed over for assisting the plan for a service station, restaurant and childcare centre on Warwick Road in Yamanto.
Under cross-examination from Mr Holt, Mr Gambaro confirmed that Mr Pinzone had "literally never paid" his full bill for the three meals.
Mr Gambaro also agreed with Mr Holt that "most times someone else would pay" when Mr Pisasale "pretty regularly" dined at his restaurants and one of the people who paid for the meals was a Springfield City Group director Maha Sinnathamby.
The jury previously heard that Springfield City Group was planning a major development in Ipswich.
Grasso Searles Romano principal solicitor Alfio Romano also testified on Thursday that Di Carlo asked him to work on Mr Pinzone's planned purchase of the Yamanto land intended for development.
"(Di Carlo) often referred clients to me so I said I was happy to help," Mr Romano said.
Mr Romano said Di Carlo later contacted him and said he now wanted to be a "partner" in the proposed Yamanto venture.
In response, Mr Romano created a family discretionary trust that gave Mr Pinzone 90 per cent control and profit share in the venture and 10 per cent to Di Carlo, with Pinzone taking on the initial legal and tax advice costs of about $15,000 in total.
"Unfortunately I wasn't paid for some time. The accounts department and myself sent numerous emails saying we had to be paid. Pinzone always had excuses and said he had a big deal coming soon," Mr Romano said.
Under cross-examination from Mr Holt, Mr Romano confirmed that the only people who could have benefited from the trust were any spouses and nominated family members of Di Carlo and Mr Pinzone.
"(The trust) was standard in every way," Mr Romano said.