Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has asked the Australian Federal Police to look after whether former minister Robert Stuart took personal advantage of his trip to China.
Stuart announced his stepping down from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ministry on Friday. The revelation came following an internal investigation that claimed the minister had a financial connection with a mining company. Stuart’s visit to Beijing to participate in the multimillion-dollar deal signing ceremony of the company led to the foundation of such claims.
The incident dates back to 2014 when Stuart visited China to support Chinese mining company Nimrod Resources, whose chairman Paul Marks was his close friend and generous Liberal donor. Labor, with regard to the incident, demanded to sack the minister.
According to the Herald Sun, Dreyfus wrote a letter to AFP urging it to handle the matter. “It is clear that Robert sought to benefit Marks, a significant Liberal donor, but the revelation that Robert himself stood to gain financially through his shareholdings in a company related to Nimrod is even more serious,” Dreyfus wrote.
“The Prime Minister has been careful to say only that this created an ‘impression’ that Robert stood to gain personally from his trip. Whether he intended to do so now merits a proper police investigation.”
The attorney-general cited criminal code’s section 142.2 that contains “abuse of public office” clause. He told the ABC that the ownership of Stuart in the company’s share took the investigation to another track. “This is a matter of fact: if he had shares in Nimrod Resources, the mining company whose signing ceremony he was attending in Beijing, then he has a direct interest,” he said.
“He stands to personally profit from the activities of that mining company and that takes it into the area of a potential criminal offence, namely abuse of his public office.”