Labor boss told staffer to ‘be careful’ with $100k in Aldi bag

LABOR staffer Kenrick Cheah says current ALP boss Kaila Murnain told him to "be careful" when he carted $100,000 in cash in a plastic ALDI shopping bag home with him, an ICAC corruption hearing heard on Tuesday.

Mr Cheah has earlier given evidence exiled Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo delivered the money to the ALP Sussex Street headquarters following a Chinese fundraising dinner in March 2015 and he was told to count the money.

Labor staffer Kenrick Cheah arrives at the ICAC hearing. Picture: Richard Dobson
Labor staffer Kenrick Cheah arrives at the ICAC hearing. Picture: Richard Dobson

Asked by counsel assisting Scott Robertson on Tuesday morning about his decision to take the bag home, Mr Cheah, 37, said the banks had shut by the time he finished work and the finance department staff had left.

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He said Ms Murnain, then an assistant general secretary, didn't know exactly how much was in the bag, but he would have told her "there's a lot of money here".

Kenrick Cheah pictured with ALP party boss Kaila Murnain.
Kenrick Cheah pictured with ALP party boss Kaila Murnain.

He also said the money was safer with him at home because ALP headquarters did not have safes for cash.

"I'm pretty sure it was Kaila was the one who said be careful, in terms of safety, personal safety," Mr Cheah said.

Mr Robertson: "To be clear about that, at a period of time in which you had possession of $100,000 in cash, Ms Murnain knew you were in possession of the cash?"

Mr Cheah: "I don't know if she knew how much was there, but she knew there was a sizeable amount of money I was taking home to keep safe, to bring back the next day."

Huang Xiangmo is accused of handing over $100,000 to NSW Labor. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Huang Xiangmo is accused of handing over $100,000 to NSW Labor. Picture: Renee Nowytarger

Mr Robertson asked how Ms Murnain knew this.

"Probably because there was a large Aldi bag on my desk and I picked it up to go home. And probably in conversation, I probably told her."

ICAC is investigating whether ALP party bosses ran a "straw man donor" racket in order to breach electoral laws, particularly at a Chinese Friends of Labor dinner at the Eight Restaurant in Haymarket in March 2015, attended by ALP leaders.

Mr Cheah, a community relations director with the ALP, is the first witness before the hearing. He told the hearing on Monday that Huang gave the money to then ALP boss Jamie Clements, who then handed it to him to count and reconcile the donation forms.