MP’s properties raided as part of corruption probe
Victorian MP Russell Northe is being investigated by the state's anti-corruption watchdog with at least two properties linked to him raided late last year as part of an ongoing secret probe.
Investigators visited two business addresses within the Morwell electorate in November armed with warrants, and some people questioned by officers may have been issued with gag orders.
It comes after Mr Northe quit the Victorian Nationals Party in 2017 following revelations in the Herald Sun he had racked up $750,00 in bad business debts and gambling losses.
In 2018, a forensic audit of the Nationals' Morwell branch accounts found concerning transactions, prompting a referral to Victoria Police.
One questionable transaction was the allegedly fraudulent removal of $8000 from the party's bank account that was later returned.
At the time the party refused to point fingers publicly and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) looked into the matter, before closing the case.
Victoria Police continue to investigate.
However, a second and new investigation is now underway by the IBAC, with local sources reporting new evidence and allegations have surfaced.
Mr Northe has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but has previously told the Herald Sun he suffered depression prompting him to gamble in relation to his debts.
"It all built up and I didn't realise I was struggling. I was very unwell and my outlet was to drink too much and gamble," he said.
In the lead up to his fall out with the party Mr Northe had approached party members for loans with a string of elaborate excuses.
He was able to convince people to hand over thousands of dollars including party Leader Peter Walsh who gave $30,000 that he believed was to help Mr Northe with his family business debts.
Staff and retrenched Latrobe Valley workers were also approached for sums of money, and one prominent businessman said he pledged $5000 to the party, which went into Mr Northe's private bank account.
He declined to comment on the latest investigation.
A statement from the IBAC said "For legal and operational reasons, IBAC is not able to comment on this matter".
Mr Northe contested the election as an independent in 2018 and won 19.56 per cent of the primary vote, compared to 44.42 per cent he secured running as a National in 2014.
Originally published as MP's properties raided as part of IBAC probe