The Commonwealth Electoral Commission (CEC) has launched an inquiry into the sale by developer James Macdonald of a 200-acre tract of land in the city of Richmond.
The CEC will also look into allegations of conflict of interest involving the company’s president and the developer’s partner.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the commission said it was “aware of the investigation and is working with the relevant authorities to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken to ensure the integrity of the election process”.
“The Commission is also concerned that some allegations have been made by some parties and individuals of improper conduct,” the commission wrote.
The Richmond-based developer was granted a lease for the property by the City of Richmond in September 2016 and it was then used by his partner, Paul Lebovitz, to build a development on the property in what the Richmond City Council called “a new, exciting development” that included a hotel, apartments, retail space, a sports arena and residential property.
Mr Lebovets told the Richmond Free Press that the land was being developed by his partners, a company called Macdonald Development Company Ltd (MDCL), and that the project included an “extensive development plan” that involved “new developments to be developed on the land”.
“I am very pleased to say the land has been sold and we have a great deal to offer Richmond,” he said.
But in a statement, Mr Lebuchets said that the development was a “disaster for the city and the residents of Richmond”.
“We have a new, innovative development that we are working on to revitalise the neighbourhood,” he told the Free Press.
“It’s going to be a huge change in the area and we are looking forward to working with people who will be able to benefit from it.”
The development, called The Skyline, is to include apartments, a hotel and a mixed-use project.
“We are a very ambitious development and we want to bring our own unique and innovative design to the area,” Mr Lebcovets said.
“There is so much space and we need to build the building to the specifications we need.”
He said the development would create 300 jobs for Richmond.
“The land has a very unique character,” he added.
“We have the opportunity to bring in some very talented people.”
The land is one of several properties that have been bought by Mr LeBuche, who said the money from the sale was used to help pay for his development of the property.
“The money has been used to pay for the new building, which will be a new development on Richmond’s west side,” he previously told the City.
“I have already had a lot of support from the community and from the local council.”
Mr Lebenitz told the Fairfax Media he was working with a local firm to build his development on a portion of the Richmond property.
The CEC’s investigation will be conducted by the Commonwealth’s public integrity unit and is not a criminal investigation.
“As the Commonwealth Commission has a responsibility to ensure compliance with election laws and procedures, it is not appropriate to comment further,” the CEC said in a written statement.
Mr Macdonald said the company was “not interested” in any inquiry into any of its activities and would not comment on the matter.”
Our focus is on ensuring the integrity and impartiality of the Australian electoral process and ensuring the conduct and integrity of all future commissions.”
Mr Macdonald said the company was “not interested” in any inquiry into any of its activities and would not comment on the matter.
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