Zali Steggall did not declare political donation from coal investor’s family trust


But an audit of the finances of the entity set up to fund Ms Steggall’s campaign last year revealed anomalies in its record keeping. Warringah Independent Ltd’s financial controller provided investigators with eight individual pledge forms and donation receipts issued to members of the Kinghorn family for the $100,000 donation.

“Although the donation consisted of eight individual pledges, a check for $100,000 was presented to Warringah Independent Ltd by The Kinghorn Family Trust. Under election law, details of individual receipts over the threshold must be disclosed in the annual disclosure report,” the audit report concluded.

Businessman and founder of RAMS Home Loans John Kinghorn.Credit:Jim Rice

Kinghorn’s donation was received on March 28, 2019, two months after Ms Steggall announced she would challenge Mr Abbott. It was not included in Warringah Independent Ltd’s original 2018-19 annual report filed on October 21, 2019, and subsequently amended in February 2020, by Mr Hodgkinson. A second amended statement containing the Kinghorn donation, which named Richard Beck Financial Controller, was filed on February 22, 2021, following the AEC audit.

Records show Mr Hodgkinson ceased to be a director of Warringah Independent Ltd on January 31, 2020, although he filed the first amended declaration a month later. Mr. Hodgkinson has been contacted for comment.

Ms Steggall’s 2019 candidate election return, with two amendments, all tabled by Mr Hodgkinson, did not disclose Kinghorn’s $100,000 donation. She was not legally required to detail individual over-threshold donations in her election report, as they were included in the Warringah Independent Ltd report. But later, she personally revealed the donation following the AEC audit.

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Answer questions from Sydney morning Herald and age, Ms Steggall said in a statement: ‘These are donations from a number of members of a large family who almost all live in Warringah. If you exclude receiving donations from anyone who has invested in coal at one time or another, you exclude just about everyone, as most people did through their retirement pension.

She did not respond to questions about non-disclosure of donations by Warringah Independent Ltd or when she learned of the AEC warning.

The corporate trustee of the Kinghorn Family Trust is JA Kinghorn & Co Pty Ltd, registered at an address in Mosman. Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show that Mr Kinghorn and his wife, Jill, are the sole directors.

Mr Kinghorn said The Sydney Morning Herald Sunday that he did not want to discuss the donation, which he said was made “a few years ago.”

The case against Mr Kinghorn, who was indicted in 2017 following an eight-year investigation by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce aided by international agencies, is still before the courts.

He was also previously a director of White Energy, a ‘diversified’ coal company, from 2010 to 2013, but resigned after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption recommended that he be charged with breaching directors’ duties for his involvement in the Mount Penny mining permit.

Mr Kinghorn and fellow White Energy board member Travers Duncan were investors in Cascade Coal, the company that bought the exploration license on Eddie Obeid’s family farm in the Bylong Valley. In November 2015, the New South Wales Court of Appeal cleared him of corrupt conduct, overturning an adverse finding by the ICAC.

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