The Mayor of one of Australia’s largest councils has been arrested by Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) officers and charged with three offences, including official corruption.
I will be vigorously defending the charges laid by the CCC. I have been willingly assisting the CCC with their investigation as part of Op Belcarra. To this day I have not been given details of allegations behind these charges but I will be absolutely fighting this to the end.
— Mayor Luke Smith (@MayorLukeSmith) March 26, 2018
He appeared briefly in court charged with two counts of perjury, one count of failing to correct his register of interests, and one count of official corruption.
The CCC will allege Councillor Smith “knowingly gave false testimony at a public hearing related to Operation Belcarra. The CCC will also allege that its investigation uncovered evidence with respect to the other charges laid against the man”.
Operation Belcarra was set up to investigate the conduct of candidates in four south-east Queensland councils, including Logan, during the 2016 local government elections.
Its terms of reference also included examining corruption risks, including “election gifts and funding, conflicts of interest or material personal interests” of councillors.
Councillor Smith was granted bail and is expected to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on April 17.
In a statement after his release, the Mayor said he would be vigorously defending the charges.
“For the past year I have been willingly and openly assisting the CCC with their investigation as part of Operation Belcarra,” he said.
“To this day, I have not been given the details of the allegations sitting behind these charges but I will be absolutely fighting this to the end.”
“Logan City Council is aware that officers from the CCC visited council’s administration building on Monday morning (March 26) in relation to an ongoing investigation,” the statement said.
“Council’s duty of care remains with the community and its staff.
“Council respects the ongoing legal process and will continue to cooperate with all CCC-related matters.”