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Salim Mehajer fined after pleading guilty to electoral funding offence

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 13/11/2017 Michaela Whitbourn

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Salim Mehajer has been hit with a fine and a legal bill after pleading guilty to failing to disclose his political donations while he was deputy mayor of the now-defunct Auburn Council.

Lawyers for the colourful property developer had indicated earlier this year that Mr Mehajer intended to fight the charges but the Local Court heard on Tuesday that he had entered a plea of guilty in writing.

Mr Mehajer sent an email at 8.54am ahead of the 9.30am sentencing hearing, the court heard.

Sophie Callan, the barrister for the NSW Electoral Commission, told the court the state's electoral funding laws were aimed at preventing corruption and undue influence.

The failure to disclose political donations "strikes at the heart of any democracy", Ms Callan said.

The Electoral Commission charged Mr Mehajer under the NSW Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act after he failed to lodge an annual disclosure of his political donations by the September deadline last year.

Ms Callan asked the court to fine Mr Mehajer and order him to pay the prosecution's legal costs, which were fixed at $3487.

Magistrate Megan Greenwood said the community had "the right to expect the highest standards from its elected officials".

Mr Mehajer had previously failed to comply with his obligations under NSW electoral funding laws, she said.

The magistrate fined Mr Mehajer $3300 and ordered him to pay the prosecution's costs. The maximum fine that could have been imposed was $4400.

Pressure is mounting on the 31-year-old former local councillor, who is facing a string of criminal and civil proceedings.

On November 8, NSW Police raided Mr Mehajer's luxury home in Lidcombe in connection with an "ongoing investigation".

It is understood the raid relates to a car crash Mr Mehajer allegedly had in Lidcombe on October 16 on the way to the first of two assault trials slated to be heard that week in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court.

Salim Mehajer, who was not in court on Tuesday, entered a plea of guilty to failing to disclose his political donations by the due date. © Christopher Pearce Salim Mehajer, who was not in court on Tuesday, entered a plea of guilty to failing to disclose his political donations by the due date.

Mr Mehajer is also at the centre of a separate electoral fraud trial and has pleaded not guilty to more than 100 offences under Commonwealth laws. If convicted, he faces a potential prison sentence.

The charges relate to the September 2012 Auburn Council election which catapulted Mr Mehajer into public office.

Prosecutors allege he "engaged in acts of electoral fraud designed to enhance his chances of winning the election", including submitting false online enrolment forms for voters.

Mr Mehajer's sister Fatima was charged with electoral fraud offences alongside her now-famous brother.

On the eve of the siblings' criminal trial in June, Ms Mehajer struck a deal with Commonwealth prosecutors to plead guilty to 77 counts of giving false or misleading information to the Australian Electoral Commission.

She will not be sentenced until after the conclusion of her brother's Local Court trial.

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