ICAC fallout: sacked city councillors front court

Former Wollongong councillors Kiril Jonovski (left) and Zeki EsenDisgraced former Wollongong councillors Kiril Jonovski and Zeki Esen will face a joint hearing before a Sydney magistrate tomorrow on charges of providing false or misleading information to the NSW corruption watchdog.Jonovski and Esen are each facing two charges relating to a failure to advise the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of a meeting they had with developer Frank Vellar at the Flame Tree Cafe in Wollongong.The two sacked Labor councillors appeared in Downing Centre Local Court yesterday.Their lawyers had been expected to apply for each man’s case to be heard separately but after negotiations between legal representatives outside the court, prosecutor Malcolm Gibson instead proposed a series of three hearings involving the allegations against Jonovski, 66, Esen, 44, and another former councillor, Frank Gigliotti, 50.The trio face charges of furnishing false or misleading information and giving false or misleading evidence during the ICAC inquiry into corruption at Wollongong City Council.The first hearing relating to Esen and Jonovski’s meeting at the Flame Tree Cafe has been set down to start tomorrow.However, the court heard yesterday that additional prosecution evidence, not expected to be provided to the defence until late yesterday, could potentially delay the start of the hearing.After the first case is finalised, Esen and Gigliotti will face a hearing later this week charged with giving misleading evidence at the ICAC inquiry about why they did not declare their roles in Quattro Employment Services as a pecuniary interest. The case is likely to be heard by a different magistrate.Finally, Gigliotti will face another hearing on three additional charges.Two of those relate to making a false statement about Wollongong MP Noreen Hay in a statutory declaration. ICAC claims Gigliotti lied in the document in which he said Ms Hay has asked him to lodge a rescission motion to overturn the council’s refusal of Mr Vellar’s North Beach Bathers’ Pavilion project.Gigliotti is also accused of making a false statement to an ICAC investigator that a senior council employee had attempted to incite a bribe from developer Lou Tasich. ICAC found the claims were unfounded and cleared the council employee of any wrongdoing.Jonovski, Esen and Gigliotti have pleaded not guilty to the charges but face up to five years’ jail if convicted of the most serious offence of giving false evidence to the ICAC inquiry.The former councillors were the first to be charged out of 11 individuals that ICAC commissioner Jerrold Cripps recommended face criminal prosecution.Only one other person, developer Glen Tabak, has been charged. His case is listed for mention in Downing Centre Local Court today.Tabak was served a court attendance notice on June 3 and is being charged with wilfully attempting to mislead ICAC.ICAC is awaiting advice on whether to pursue additional charges against Gigliotti and Tabak.Seven other people recommended by ICAC for prosecution – former councillor Val Zanotto, ex-council employees Beth Morgan and Joe Scimone, developers Mr Vellar and Mr Tasich, and conmen Ray Younan and Gerald Carroll – are still awaiting a decision by the DPP and ICAC whether to pursue criminal charges.
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