Former UNE Chancellor Subject of ICAC Investigation
By Bridgette Glover Six years after his departure as Chancellor of UNE, John Cassidy was back in hot water last month, being placed under the spotlight by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The public inquiry, which began on July 21 and adjourned on Friday 25 July, examined his involvement in the 2006 sale of a university-owned pub.
Cassidy was accused of using inside information to help him and business associate, Darrell Hendry, acquire the Tattersalls Hotel, which was then owned by the UNE Union. The university had decided to sell the hotel when the union felt the financial pressure from the introduction of voluntary student unionism.
Cassidy’s involvement in the purchase was not disclosed to his fellow board members at the time, and it was revealed during the inquiry that he was involved in the decision to sell the hotel, as well as seek legal advice regarding it.
The confidential information that Cassidy was alleged to have leaked included the amounts other bidders had offered.
The minutes of a Services UNE board meeting held on the day of the sale, December 5, 2005, recorded Cassidy stating to a board director that he had “no ongoing connection with Mr Hendry”.
Despite this claim, ICAC produced telephone discussions held by Cassidy and Hendry during the period between when confidential bids had been received and when Hendry had placed his own. These records showed that the two business partners had held numerous conversations in that time, including just before Hendry placed the winning bid.
Mr Hendry bought the hotel for $2.65 million through Vercot, a company he and Cassidy then owned. Though Hendry’s name was the only one to appear on the transaction records, Mr Cassidy took a two-thirds stake in the deal.
Mr Cassidy was also accused of misleading an internal UNE inquiry into the sale.
Cassidy was accused of misconduct in public office. Proceedings are expected to resume in September.