Salim Mehajer

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Salim Mehajer
Deputy Mayor of the Auburn City Council
In office
8 September 2012 – 29 January 2016
Mayor Ned Attie
Hicham Zraika
Ronney Oueik
Le Lam
Preceded by Jack Au
Succeeded by Council suspended
Councillor of the Auburn City Council
In office
8 September 2012 – 29 January 2016
Constituency First Ward
Personal details
Born Salim Mehajer
(1986-06-12) 12 June 1986 (age 32)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Independent
Spouse(s)
Aysha Learmonth
(m. 2015; sep. 2016)
Education Trinity Catholic College
Arthur Phillip High School
Alma mater Western Sydney University
Occupation Property developer
(Self–employed)
Profession Businessman
Politician

Salim Mehajer (born 12 June 1986)[1] is an Australian convicted criminal, former licensed builder, property developer, disqualified corporation manager and former deputy mayor of the former Auburn City Council. He has interests in a number of property development companies.[2] In March 2018 Mehajer was declared bankrupt. In April 2018 he was found guilty of electoral fraud and on 22 June 2018 was sentenced to 21 months in prison, with a non-parole period of 11 months. [3]

Biography

Early life and education

Mehajer was born in Sydney, and is the third-eldest of eight children of Lebanese immigrants Amal and Mohamed Mehajer.[1] He grew up in the Auburn area and was educated at the local primary school before attending Trinity Catholic College, Auburn for the majority of his high school years. Mehajer finished his final years at Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta and subsequently studied at Western Sydney University, graduating with a Bachelor of Housing degree[1] in April 2010.[4]

Mehajer was featured in an advertisement in the Auburn Review, paid for by the not-for-profit Australian Community Association [5] of which Mehajer was President at the time, which states he also attained a Masters of Environmental Systems, Markets and Climate Change.[6][7] However, although he enrolled in an environmental engineering course at the University of New England (UNE), a spokesperson from UNE stated that he never completed it.[1]

Mehajer's parents, Mohamad and Amal, have come to the attention of Australian authorities in relation to unpaid taxes worth almost $10 million. Mohamad has previously been sentenced to 3.5 years prison for bribery and fraud involving the ANZ bank.[8]

Political career

Mehajer ran as an independent member of the Legislative Assembly for Auburn at the 2011 New South Wales State election. He was subsequently investigated by the Election Funding Authority of New South Wales for failing to declare electoral spending and political donations but, as he was not elected, no action was taken against him.[9]

In 2012 he was elected as an independent councillor for the City of Auburn, and was subsequently elected as deputy mayor.[1]

In 2014 the Division of Local Government conducted an investigation into Mehajer's pecuniary interests and suspended him from civic office for a month for failing to disclose his business and property interests.[10]

Suspension of job as deputy mayor

In September 2015, Mehajer faced accusations of conflict of interest in decisions made by the local council.[11][12] The New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered Mehajer to be suspended for four months for his failure to disclose financial interests.

In October 2015, Mehajer appeared on Nine News with his wife, and from a lectern gave an interview with a reporter. In the interview, he said "I would like to start off by being in state, federal and I'd like to make my way up to the very top spot. That would [be] my dream come true" and denied claims that he was part of a group of six councillors who were accused of banding together to push through development applications.[13][14] Reaction to the interview ranged from it being called a "bizarre stage-managed spectacle" by The Huffington Post,[15] to criticism from radio host Ray Hadley in an interview with the Today show's host Karl Stefanovic.[16]

The suspension of the deputy mayor was overturned on appeal in February 2016 however the entire council had been suspended by this time.[17]

Suspension of Auburn City Council, and public enquiry

In February 2016, the NSW Government has suspended the entire Sydney's Auburn City Council and appointed an administrator while a public inquiry examined the allegations of councillors misusing their positions.[18] The appointed administrator scrapped two major developments which could benefit Mehajer.[19]

On 12 May 2016, Auburn City Council was abolished by the NSW Government. Parts of Auburn City Council (south of the M4 Western Motorway) and Parramatta City Council (Woodville Ward), and Holroyd City Council merged to form the Cumberland Council as a new local government area. The remainder of the Auburn City Council area north of the M4 Western Motorway (including Sydney Olympic Park) was merged into the City of Parramatta Council.

In November 2016, the public enquiry found no adverse findings against Mehajer or Sydney's Auburn City Council in regard to his development applications.[20] The minister believed that this was due to the limited powers of the inquiry and referred the matter to the independent commission against corruption.[21]

Failing to declare political donations

On 14 November 2017, Mehajer pleaded guilty for failing to declare political donations and was fined $3,300 and ordered to pay costs of $3,487.[22]

Conviction of electoral fraud

On 15 June 2017, Mehajer was charged with over 100 electoral fraud offences along with his sister, Fatima, while he was the deputy Mayor of Auburn. Fatima pleaded guilty to 77 counts of giving false or misleading information to the Australian Electoral Commission.[23] In April 2018 he was found guilty of electoral fraud and was sentenced on 22 June 2018 to 21 months in prison with a non-parole period of 11 months.[24]

Marriage and separation

In 2015, Mehajer came to public prominence in Australia and overseas after his marriage to his fiance Aysha (formerly April Amelia Learmonth[25]) was widely publicised in the media. The media focused on Mehajer's manner of arrival, which involved flying in one of four helicopters then proceeding to the wedding in a fleet of luxury sports cars, and for his wedding video which was widely shown on media sites in Australia.[26][27][28] During the event, he was accused of closing Frances Street in Lidcombe without authorisation, and for distributing fake notices warning residents that their cars would be towed if they were not cleared from the street, and later fined $220[29][30]

In April 2016 Aysha separated from Mehajer.[31] Following this, In July 2016, Aysha applied for and received an apprehended violence order (AVO) against Mehajer on the grounds she felt intimidated.[32][33]

In November 2017, police alleged that Mehajer had breached the AVO taken out by his ex-wife. The breaches related to him driving to the laneway behind her home and posting a picture on Instagram of the couple when they were still together.[34] On the 24 April 2018 the judge found that Mehajer did not contravene the AVO on the grounds the prosecution had not proven he knew the conditions of the AVO, however he was found guilty of intimidatory conduct after he allegedly sent over 400 messages to her after the pair had separated.[35] He was placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond.[36] He has reportedly "moved on" and has a new partner.[37]

Criminal charges and convictions

Fraud charges and convictions

Salim Mehajer
Criminal status Imprisoned
Motive Election to local government
Criminal charge Electoral fraud
Penalty 21 months; non-parole period of 11 months
Partner(s) Fatima Mehajer (sister)
Imprisoned at Cooma Correctional Centre[38]

Mehajer has received a number of convictions for fraud. On 15 June 2017, Mehajer was charged with over 100 electoral fraud offences, and was found guilty in April 2018.[23][39] On 22 June 2018 he was sentenced to 21 months in prison with a non-parole period of 11 months.[24]

On 23 January 2018, Mehajer was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and with perverting the course of justice with regard to a car crash that occurred on the 16 October 2017 crash.[40] He was refused bail, with the magistrate stating that the case "strikes at the very core of the justice system".[41] Mehajer was released on 4 April 2018 after $200,000 bail was posted, his conditions of bail include reporting to the police twice a day.[42]

Apprehended violence orders and conviction for intimidation

Mehajer was accused of threatening personal trainer Bruce Herat in October 2015 after a disagreement at a gymnasium. Mehajer was subsequently charged with intimidation by police and had an apprehended violence order (AVO) taken out against him. The AVO prohibited Mehajer from entering Herat's workplace, Anytime Fitness Gym in Burwood.[43][44] According to Herat, Mehajer used offensive and threatening language towards him.[45] However, the charges were later dismissed by the magistrate because the security camera had been broken in the council car park, where the alleged confrontation occurred, and he had no way of knowing for certain that Mehajer had threatened Herat, however, the AVO was extended by a further 12 months.[46]. A later appeal against the extension was dismissed.[47]

Assault convictions

On 2 April 2017 Mehajer allegedly assaulted a taxi driver outside the Star Casino in Sydney, by throwing an EFTPOS machine at the taxi driver's face. He also allegedly took the driver's mobile phone and threw it out of the car. Mehajer took a plea deal and pled guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and destroying or damaging property. Mehajer was ordered to pay compensation of just over $600 and enter into a three-year good behaviour bond.[48]

On the same day, Mehajer was also accused of deliberately shutting a car door on a Seven News reporter's hand, and was subsequently charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.[49] On the 23 February 2018 he was found guilty due to the reckless nature of closing the door without looking, however the judge recorded a conviction without imposing any other penalty due to the "appalling and predatory behaviour" of the media pack who pursued him.[50]

Drug charges

On 28 March 2018, Mehajer was charged with two counts of possessing and one count of supplying a prohibited drug, police allegedly found more than 200 anxiety and painkiller pills - 50 alprazolam (Xanax) tablets, and 174 Endone and Targin tablets - at the property developer's Lidcombe mansion during a raid on 8 November 2017.[51]

Disqualified from managing corporations, companies placed in administration

In August 2016 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission banned Mehajer from managing any corporation for three years "as a means of protecting others from his incompetence". His failed companies owed more than one million dollars to the Australian Taxation Office. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld a previous ban that was appealed by Mehajer, who also sought a suppression of the proceedings to remain out of the public eye.[52]

Civil suits, and bankruptcy

Pursued for unpaid bill for staircase

Mehajer had a marble staircase installed in his home. The company that installed it states they were not paid for their work. "The Greenacre company sued him and won, with NSW District Court Judge Judith Gibson in October ordering Mehajer to pay up to almost $1 million — the cost of the staircase and about $400,000 to cover Prime Marble’s court costs."[53]

Pursued by Administrator

The liquidator, Anthony Elkerton of Dean-Willcocks Advisory, is pursuing Mehajer and his business partner for $672,297 plus interest and costs.[54] Tim Orlizki of law firm Kent Attorneys appeared in the Supreme Court seeking leave to withdraw from acting for Mr Mehajer in the liquidator's proceedings before a three-day hearing started, as he had not been paid.[55]

Bankruptcy

On the 14 August 2017, he had put his million-dollar house up for lease due to ongoing legal battles.[56]

On the 20 March 2018, a federal court judge declared Mehajer bankrupt, and appointed a trustee to manage his property and financial affairs.[57]

Driving offences

Car crash (2012)

Mehajer was involved in a serious car crash on 17 January 2012 when he lost control of his Ferrari 612 Scaglietti at the crest of The Boulevarde in Lidcombe and ran over two women before colliding with a wall. The two women were rushed to Westmead Hospital where they underwent surgery for serious leg and pelvic injuries. They were released from hospital after spending a month in recovery.[58][59][60]

Mehajer was convicted of negligent driving on 23 October 2012 at Burwood Local Court where he had his license disqualified and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service by magistrate Brian Maloney. Mehajer appealed and in September 2013 the conviction was overturned.[61]

The two injured women later sued him in 2014 and Mehajer reached a settlement with them in early October 2015, agreeing to pay AUD$1.72 million which was paid by his insurers, NRMA.[62][63]

Demerit points and stamp duty

Mehajer is under investigation for undervaluing his luxury cars to avoid stamp duty and demerit point shifting to other parties for driving offences.[64] Mehajer is still under investigation.[65]

Car crashes October and November (2017)

On 16 October 2017, while on his way to court to face charges, the vehicle in which he was travelling was involved in a crash and he was taken to hospital. Mehajer claimed that he was not the driver.[66]

In the early hours of 20 November 2017, Mehajer was arrested following a car crash in Kingsgrove in Sydney's south. He was charged with one count of dangerous driving.[67]

On 23 January 2018, Mehajer was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and with perverting the course of justice with regard to the 16 October crash.[40]

On 24 January 2018, a magistrate refused Mehajer bail stating that the case "strikes at the very core of the justice system".[41] Mehajer was released on 4 April 2018 after $200,000 bail was posted. His conditions include reporting to police twice a day.[42]

Custodial sentences

On 23 January 2018, Mahajer was placed in custody of Silverwater Correctional Complex on remand for 10 weeks. Mahajer was released on 4 April 2018 after $200,000 bail was posted.[68]

On 22 June 2018, Mahajer was sentenced to 21 months prison relating to 77 charges of electoral fraud. The sister of Mahajer, Fatima Mehajer was given a two-month suspended prison sentence for her role in the scam. Mahajer will be eligible for parole after 11 months.[69]

In August 2018 it was reported Mahajer is incarcerated in Cooma Correctional Centre[70], during this sentence it has been reported that Mehajer allegedly assaulted a prison officer and had been placed on a 14 day segregation order.[71]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Klan, Anthony; Bearup, Greg (12 December 2015). "Salim Mehajer: it's good to be the deputy mayor". The Australian. (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Life in the fast lane" (PDF). news.com.au. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Salim Mehajer jailed for electoral fraud". smh.com.au. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  4. ^ Western Sydney University has an online award verification service. To confirm Salim Mehajer's degree and conferral date, enter his first and last names and click on the search button.
  5. ^ Current & Historical Company Extract, Australian Community Association Pty Ltd, ACN: 150 648 936, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, 12 May 2016
  6. ^ "Auburn's Deputy Mayor takes on Law Degree" (Advertisement). Auburn Review. 28 January 2014. p. 10.
  7. ^ McKenny, Leesha (11 February 2014). "Councillor's law degree will not be his first brush with courts". Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. ^ "Parents of Salim Mehajer, Mohamad and Amal, face court on $10m tax bill". news.com.au. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  9. ^ Murphy, Damien (16 August 2015). "Auburn Deputy Mayor Salim Mehajer wedding was delayed until father's release from jail". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. ^ Mckenny, Leesha (22 June 2014). "Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer faces suspension over business interests". The Sydney Morning Herald.
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  15. ^ Blackwell, Eoin (6 October 2015). "Salim Mehajer's "Bizarre" Interview". The Huffington Post.
  16. ^ Vincent, Peter (6 October 2015), Karl Stefanovic's hilarious reaction at Salim Mejaher's ambitions is gold, The Sydney Morning Herald
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  65. ^ "Man cleared of driving offences, claims Mehajer family 'dumped' demerits on him". Retrieved 2018-02-01.
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  70. ^ Daly, Nadia (21 August 2018). "Salim Mehajer accused of impersonating police officer, stockpiling medication in prison". ABC News. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  71. ^ Brook, Benedict (11 September 2018). "Salim Mehajer charged after allegedly grabbing prison officer". News.com.au. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
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