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What is the ICAC and why is it looking into Gladys Berejiklian and her secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire?

There've been shockwaves in NSW politics this week, as the ICAC's inquiry into former politician Daryl Maguire heard revelations from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian about the pair's secret relationship. If you need to catch up, let our reporters fill you

Here's the simple version: one of the most popular premiers in NSW history, Gladys Berejiklian, is fighting for her job after revealing she had a secret boyfriend — Daryl Maguire.

That truncated explanation doesn't really make sense of an explosive week in Sydney, though.

If you struggled to keep up with developments at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and NSW Parliament, you're not alone.

So, let our reporters explain it for you.

What is the ICAC?
ICAC NSWICAC NSW
The ICAC is not a court but it does have special powers.(Supplied: Sydney Criminal Lawyers)

The ICAC has had spectacular wins and losses since it was set up in 1989 because of community concern about integrity in NSW's public sector.

ABC court reporter Jamelle Wells has covered it for more than a decade and she's seen plenty of people's reputations shredded there.

"People either love it or hate it — they see it as either keeping public officials honest, or ruining people's lives," she said.

The ICAC is not a court.

Much of its work is "compulsory examination" in private hearings, but it also holds public inquiries if it deems matters are in the public interest — like the one going on right now.

The ICAC has special powers so it can raid buildings and seize documents.

Witnesses are sworn in or take an affirmation and must answer questions. 

The ICAC commissioner can't charge anyone. Instead, they make recommendations and send those to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Significantly, if the DPP lays charges, evidence given at the ICAC can't always be used in court.

Who is Daryl Maguire?

The man at the centre of the current ICAC hearings, Daryl Maguire, has been pretty anonymous since he quit politics two years ago.

ABC Riverina chief of staff Lauren Pezet lives in Wagga Wagga, and has covered Mr Maguire's fall from grace extensively.

Earlier this week, she wrote this helpful explainer, which tells you everything you need to know about him.

A man in a tieA man in a tie
Mr Maguire is being investigated by ICAC over several of his business interests.(Supplied: Facebook)

If you don't have time to read that, here's an even quicker version: Mr Maguire is a former long-time politician who resigned in 2018.

He quit after he admitted to a different ICAC inquiry he sought payment over a property deal, which politicians aren't supposed to do.

What has he done?

ICAC is investigating business interests Mr Maguire was involved in between 2012 and when he resigned from Parliament.

They're trying to work out whether he used his public position to make money for himself.

One of the main things being probed is a "cash-for-visa" scam Mr Maguire has admitted to being involved in.

Who is Daryl Maguire?

ICAC has revealed more about the man who resigned in 2018.

Read more

He's admitted to taking tens of thousands of dollars in commissions to connect a migration agent with businesses in the NSW Riverina.

Those businesses in turn would be paid to take on Chinese employees who wouldn't turn up for work.

The commission also heard about G8way International, a company Mr Maguire ran as a shadow director, organising business activities using his parliamentary office and staff.

Finally, the ICAC is looking at his relationship with Sydney landowners and property developers.

Why is the Premier involved?
Gladys BerejiklianGladys Berejiklian
Ms Berejiklian says she's done nothing wrong and is holding onto office for now.(AAP: Bianca de Marchi)

On Monday the Premier gave evidence at ICAC and revealed she'd been in a secret five-year relationship with Mr Maguire.

No one saw it coming — Ms Berejiklian has always been an private person — and later she told reporters not even close friends or family knew about the relationship.

The Premier says she's done nothing wrong, and that the relationship, which ended about a month ago, was part of her private life.

The ICAC played more than 10 telephone conversations between the two, in which Mr Maguire talks about a deal involving land near the Western Sydney Airport that would potentially clear his debts of around $1.5 million.

The commission pressed the Premier on whether she knew what her then-partner was up to.

But Ms Berejiklian emphatically denied that knowing in great detail about his business dealings, telling the inquiry Mr Maguire's ideas often seemed "fanciful" and "pie in the sky".

It's also important to remember the ICAC isn't investigating whether the Premier did anything wrong — it's looking at whether Mr Maguire did.

What happens next?

The ICAC commissioner will prepare a report and findings, which will be handed down later — but that will mainly affect Mr Maguire.

It's harder to say what will happen to Gladys Berejiklian, according to the ABC's state political reporter in NSW Ashleigh Raper.

In an analysis piece yesterday she wrote it would have been simpler for the Liberal Party if there was another bombshell at the ICAC which provided a fatal blow to Ms Berejiklian.

She's popular and respected because of how she's handled the pandemic and the bushfires.

But the support her Liberal Party colleagues provided earlier this week, has now turned privately to increasing concern.

There won't be a leadership spill against Ms Berejiklian — she would need to resign.

So the Premier may have survived the week, but her future remains deeply uncertain.

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