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We’re jumping around all over today; we’re back live after lunch, and have therefore missed probably an hour and fifteen vital minutes of the morning session. We have them on the Betacord video machine and will come back to fill in the gaps at the end of the day.
Right now though we have Michael ‘Tie The’ Knott in the box (we’ll call him Tietha) he apparently was in the box before lunch because he is not being sworn in. Tieha was the Treasurer of the BTG Foundation, and also the Executive Officer at the CFMEU NSW Branch. He left the union with then recently elected secretary Mal Tullough following Sparkles successful 2011 coup.
Tietha’s talking about Trevor Sharp, who was coordinator of the BTG Foundation until 2011, when he was replaced by witness to come Tony Papa, who real name is Tony Costuntinos. Apparently he had concerns about a sharp drop in levy income into the foundation (it essentially halved) and raised these with Sharp.
It appears this may just be a wrap up of some late morning evidence because Smacka changes course, and all of a sudden Tietha is telling us about the day that CFMEU Organiser Steve Dixon was having a chat with him in his office when he blurted out that Thiess had offered him a $100 000 donation.
Tietha says he remembers exactly what he said to Dixon at the news of this revelation, and recounts it for us angrily, spitting:
“That’s a fucking kickback, under no circumstances have anything to do with it; that’s corruption”.
“But the AWU do it all the time, it’s a donation” he says Dixon replied.
“We’re the CFMEU, not the AWU; it’s a kickback and corruption. I am directing you to have nothing to do with it”.
“Why do you say it was a kickback?”
“Because bosses don’t offer the CFMEU $100 000. It was a bribe”.
Tietha then went directly to the office of CFMEU then Secretary Andrew Ferguson and demanded an immediate meeting. He told Ferguson exactly what had happened, and expressed his outrage.
Ferguson suggested that it may have been a legitimate donation; Tietha told him that was absolute bullshit, and they argued the toss for about 15 minutes. The conversation ended with Ferguson promising to speak to Dixon about it.
This all happened about 10 years ago, but Tietha says that he is positive – absolutely certain – that the conversation occurred exactly as he has described it above. He says that until then he was proud of the CFMEU, and had never had any exposure to potential corruption.
You can hear the absolute disgust in Tietha’s voice as he relates his story. He says that he never spoke to either Ferguson or Dixon about the matter again.
Bribes from major multinational companies? Thiess are the company alleged to have made improper payments to Bruce Wilson in the 1990’s. And they have form for bribery. Very interesting indeed.