Questions raised over cheques given to Shoalhaven City Council for land deal

Tempers flare at Shoalhaven City Council over ‘irregular’ cheques

From the South Coast Register, 28 January 2015

Questions have been raised over the legitimacy of three Shaolin Temple Foundation cheques given to Shoalhaven Council for the land at Comberton Grange

Cr Andrew Guile raised his concerns during Tuesday night’s council meeting, during which he was threatened with expulsion for “insulting” Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash.

Cr Guile told the Register on Wednesday the cheques were highly irregular.

“First, a mortgage is usually paid for with a single bank cheque. What Patrick Pang delivered to Mayor Jo Gash last Friday were three personal cheques, two for $1 million dollars and one for over $3 million.

“Second, it is standard practice that cheques for a large sum of money need to be counter-signed.

“And third, all three cheques were post-dated.”

An angry argument arose in council when Cr Guile raised the issue and was accused of insulting the mayor.

“I tried to apologise when asked, but was repeatedly rebuffed.”

Cr Guile said Cr Gash was wrong when she said payment had been received for Comberton Grange.

“In fact, last Friday no money was received for the mortgage.

“The first and second cheques, both for $1 million, can only be banked on January 28 and January 29.”

Shaolin Temple Foundation representative Patrick Pang insisted he was allowed to sign the cheques by himself.

“The money is good. It came in by dribs and drabs from China, but now it is all there.

“There will be no problem with the cheques,” Mr Pang said.

Shoalhaven City Council director of Corporate and Community, Craig Milburn, said the first cheque had been deposited into the Council’s NAB account on Wednesday morning.

“I stood in the deposit line with all the other people holding cheques, although mine probably had a few more zeros than theirs.”

Mr Milburn said he expected the cheque would be cleared by early next week.

Greens Councillor Amanda Findley said proper process had “gone of the rails in respect to the sale of Comberton Grange”.

“I’m absolutely astounded that  Shoalhaven Council accepted post dated cheques from the Shaolin,” Cr Findley said.

“I am distressed that council put out a message that was factually incorrect – the money has not been paid and the majority of it won’t be received until the end of February.

“I don’t believe that the Shaolin would have had the audacity to present the future dated cheques if they had received different signals from council.

“I think there is a real difference in doing straightforward business and fawning over a developer.

“The current political majority Team Gash have a develop at any cost reputation, but in this case the fundamentals have been lost.”

Cr Gash declined to comment.