Tinkler slams ICAC 'character assassination’

Tinkler slams ICAC 'character assassination’

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler has said the the state's corruption commission has been a three week long character assassination.

Mr Tinkler is accused of trying to bribe former Labor MP Jodi McKay by allegedly offering to fund her Newcastle election campaign on the proviso she supported his plans to turn former steel works into a coal loader that would help his company.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) heard that one of Mr Tinkler's companies made illegal donations instead to Ms McKay's rival Liberal, Tim Owen, who has since announced his political retirement.

“This whole thing has been a character assassination for three weeks so I am looking forward to clearing that up,” Mr Tinkler said.

Just a fabrication: ex-Hartcher staffer

The woman at the helm of a major NSW cash-for-favours probe has accused former ministerial staffer Tim Koelma of lying about an apparent "black-ops" smear campaign.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), overseen by Commissioner Megan Latham, has been investigating a false corruption complaint that was anonymously levelled against senior Sydney Water executives Kerry Schott and Ron Quill.

It's alleged the complaint was made at the behest of controversial infrastructure firm Australian Water Holdings, which was locked in a commercial dispute with the utility, in return for secret donations to NSW Liberals.

Mr Koelma, a former staffer to sidelined NSW Liberal MP Chris Hartcher, has admitted to typing the complaint but says the information in it came from a mystery man who identified himself as a Sydney Water employee named "Robert".

Mr Koelma then forwarded the corruption complaint to his brother Eric and asked him to post it through to the ICAC - adding that Eric could read it for "a laugh", and signing off: "yay! black-ops".

Counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC on Thursday said the allegations were "100 per cent" baseless and were part of a plan to damage the careers of Mr Quill and Dr Schott.

"It's all just a fabrication, isn't it, Mr Koelma? 'Robert' didn't exist," Ms Latham said.

"Absolutely he did," Mr Koelma said, but conceded he did not know the man's surname or how to contact him.

"I don't know what to tell you," Mr Koelma said.

Ms Latham replied: "You don't know what to tell the commission because it's a lie."

At the completion of the inquiry, it will fall to Ms Latham to determine whether Mr Koelma has deliberately given false evidence to the ICAC - an offence which, if proven, carries a maximum five-year jail term.