By Cam Lucadou-Wells
More than $300,000 in unexplained cash deposits landed in former Casey mayor Sam Aziz’s accounts over a three-year period, an IBAC inquiry has heard.
Mr Aziz told the inquiry that he couldn’t recall the sources of the deposits ranging from $2000 to $20,000 in 2014-’17.
He also deposited cheques totalling up to $20,000 from Zagame’s in Berwick, the inquiry heard.
The deposits may have been from “big” wins on Keno at the Zagame’s venue, or takings from the family dental surgery, Mr Aziz said.
“I can assure you it had nothing to do with (developer John) Woodman,” he said.
He flatly denied that he was laundering money at the venue.
Counsel assisting the inquiry Michael Tovey said some of the payments coincided with key council decisions on Mr Woodman’s quest for rezoning Cranbourne West industrial land – Amendment C219.
Mr Tovey said he wasn’t suggesting all the deposits came from Mr Woodman but that Mr Aziz took cash from “wherever you could find it”.
Mr Woodman had told the inquiry he first raised C219 with Mr Aziz in late 2013.
IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich questioned Mr Aziz on making “no attempt” to go through his records since giving private evidence on the matter in October 2019.
Mr Aziz said he didn’t have access the documentation, which had been taken from his home while he was in China.
Operation Sandon investigators have alleged that Mr Aziz received more than $900,000 from developer John Woodman.
Ex-mayor and Woodman lobbyist Lorraine Wreford couriered up to $15,000 a month to Mr Aziz.
They were “monthly interest” payments on the $600,000 that Mr Aziz delivered in a suitcase to Mr Woodman at the Sandhurst Club in 2017, he told the inquiry.
He also had an agreement for $25,000 a month as a ‘Smart Cities’ consultant for Mr Woodman’s Little River project in 2018.
It included $2000 a month in cash for “incidentals” for taking people out for coffees and meetings.
Mr Aziz denied knowing Mr Woodman was funding his $5000 monthly consultancy fee for Spicer Thoroughbreds – owned by Ms Wreford’s partner Bernard Lee.
According to Mr Tovey, this was contradicted by Mr Aziz chasing up his Spicer fee in an email to Mr Woodman.