This is a report of an own-motion investigation into any misconduct committed by then Derwent Valley Council Councillor Paul Belcher or other public officers, in relation to their contact with Roostam Sadri, a property developer.
In July and August 2020, Commission staff received information from the Office of Local Government about then Councillor Belcher’s connection with Mr Sadri.
Our investigation showed evidence of sharing of confidential information by Councillor Belcher. Subsequently, the Board extended the scope of the investigation to consider any misconduct committed by Councillor Belcher relating to sharing confidential Derwent Valley Council (Council) information, especially with Damian Bester, a former councillor and local journalist.
The investigation found that then Councillor Belcher failed to disclose or manage a conflict of interest arising from his association with Mr Sadri. It also found that Councillor Belcher agitated for Mr Sadri’s interests and pressured Council employees on behalf of Mr Sadri, while Councillor Belcher had a personal and financial association with Mr Sadri.
This was a conflict of interest between his role as a councillor and his personal interests.
Councillor Belcher also received $5,000 from Mr Sadri when Councillor Belcher was running for council. Councillor Belcher used at least part of this gift for his re-election campaign.
Councillor Belcher resigned from Council in December 2021. Some of the information we found about Councillor Belcher sharing confidential Council information was shared with the Office of Local Government. In August 2022, Councillor Belcher pleaded guilty to two breaches of section 338A(1)(b)of the Local Government Act 1993.
We found no evidence that any other public officers engaged in misconduct relating to contact with Mr Sadri.
The systems issues that relate to this investigation are covered in detail in the accompanying Research Report (PDF, 1.3 MB), which contains a range of recommendations to address gaps in the current legislative instruments.
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