Sinodinos responds to donations scandal
UPDATE: Senator Arthur Sinodinos's lawyers have sent a letter to the NSW Electoral Commission responding to the commission's recent statement regarding party donations.
In the letter, the lawyers acting on the Senator's behalf set out a summary of evidence they say proves Sinadinos has been treated unfairly by the commission.
The letter claims the commission's statement "may erroneously convey to some readers that there was evidence that Senator Sinodinos was knowingly involved in the so-called scheme to disguise donations by prohibited donors and the preparation and filing of the 201'1 declaration."
Sinadinos also issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.
"Despite what Labor says, the NSW Electoral Commission decision does not accuse me of setting up a slush fund or breaking the law. I have never been accused of corruption. I deny any wrongdoing or illegality," Sinadinos said.
"Regrettably, parts of the Electoral Commission's Summary of Facts used loose language which could convey erroneous impressions.
"My lawyers, Arnold Bloch Liebler, have written to the Electoral Commission seeking a retraction.
"My sworn evidence to the ICAC has been on the public record for all to see since 2014. My lawyers' letter to the Electoral Commission sets out the relevant evidence.
"I have always sought to respect the ICAC process. I have consistently made clear that I will not provide a running commentary.
"I have not been a party to the Federal Court civil case since August 2015. The settlement terms are confidential. I will not be commenting on the case.
"Finally, I will not be responding to the publication of unsubstantiated rumours, gossip or scuttlebutt."
EARLIER: THE Federal Labor Party has called for Turnbull government Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos to stand aside, after revelations the New South Wales Liberal Party refused to reveal the identities of political donors.
Senator Sinodinos was the party's treasurer in late 2011, when about 4700,000 in donations were funnelled to the state party through associated entity the Free Enterprise Foundation.
A NSW Electoral Commission investigation on Thursday found the state party failed to disclose the source of the funds the foundation had passed on to it, and has refused to provide the party with $4.4 million in public funds until the donor identities are revealed.
The party's NSW State Executive has since said it will write to the Electoral Commission asking what it needs to do to properly declare the money.
Labor frontbencher and Acting Shadow Attorney-General Brendan O'Connor on Thursday called for Sen Sinodinos to stand aside from his Cabinet secretary role, or the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull demand he stand aside.
Mr O'Connor also urged Mr Turnbull to ask Sen Sinodinos to fully explain his role with the foundation and related donations.
Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz on Friday told Sky News Sen Sinodinos should not stand aside, and that he had the full support of his party room colleagues.
It is understood the political party, which told the commission the funding was urgent given the coming federal election, is considering its options to appeal the commission's decision not to provide the funding.
"It is a matter for the NSW State Division to respond to the matters raised by the NSW Electoral Commission in its statement," Senator Sindinos said in a statement this afternoon.
"I had no role in the NSW Division's decision to decline to update information disclosed in that declaration, as was requested by the Commission.
"For my part, my lawyers have written to the Commission to draw its attention to errors of fact in its statement in relation to me. I was not given the opportunity by the Commission to comment on its statement before its publication and I was not aware of the publication until shortly prior to its release.
"The Statement already has been extensively cited by the media. In a number of instances, there has been erroneous commentary to the effect that I "concealed" illegal donations, and that my actions were somehow corrupt or illegal. That media commentary is a direct consequence of the NSW Electoral Commission's flawed publication.
"In light of these matters, my lawyers on my behalf have invited the Commission to immediately retract all references to me in the publication. The Commission has been invited to publish a correction to that effect on its website."