Aziz took flight after raid

Sam Aziz at the Operation Sandon inquiry on 1 December.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Mr Aziz said he didn’t need to tell IBAC of his impending flight to Egypt, booked soon after IBAC officers raided his home on 17 September 2019.

At the time, he told the officers he wasn’t thinking about leaving for Egypt, the IBAC Operation Sandon inquiry heard on 1 December 2020.

Within days, Mr Aziz advertised and sold his house in Barak Avenue, Berwick – which he informed IBAC officers at the time, he told the inquiry.

He booked an overseas flight and withdrew $117,000 from his home’s loan account.

He transferred $50,000 to his nephew in Cairo to “support his living expenses”, Mr Aziz told the hearing.

“Following the attendance of IBAC did you sell up and put yourself in a position to go overseas?” counsel assisting IBAC, Michael Tovey asked Mr Aziz.

“Clearly it’s yes. It’s stating the obvious, isn’t it?” Mr Aziz said.

“I needed to get a break because of the amount of stress I was under, and the IBAC visit was actually the straw that broke my back, and I needed to get away.”

On 3 October 2019, Mr Aziz was asked during private evidence at IBAC about why he’d applied for leave of absence from Casey Council until 6 November.

He told IBAC at the time he was attending medical appointments and preparing for an Australian Lebanon Chamber of Commerce gala event.

Mr Aziz conceded he didn’t tell IBAC at the time of his ticket to leave Australia six days later.

“I didn’t need to, Mr Tovey.

“My immediate family were still back in Australia.

“When I found out that the (IBAC public) examinations had started in November, I booked a ticket on 19 November, and I have proof of that, to return but I couldn’t board the aircraft because of my health conditions.”

The Operation Sandon public inquiry has run from 18 November-6 December 2019, as well as 2-17 March 2020 in Mr Aziz’s absence.

The hearings recommenced on 9 November, and are ongoing.