A lobbying company run by Liberal Party powerbroker Christian Ellis just weeks ago quietly deleted all of its “clients” from the NSW Government register — including Toplace, the major Sydney property development company owned by Jean Nassif.
Beckington Group clients Toplace and nine other businesses — including a company called Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria Ltd — were erased entirely from the official register last month, between February 10 and February 15.
The clients no longer appear anywhere on the regsiter – even as “historical” clients of the firm – despite Beckingham Group remaining an “active” lobbyist.
It can also be revealed that Christian Ellis — who allegedly hid out in a forest to avoid a parliamentary inquiry into the dealings — shifted his ownership of the lobbying firm to a company owned and controlled by his wife, Cecil Piat.
The explosive revelations are contained in one of three highly detailed dossiers submitted to a NSW parliamentary inquiry examining relationships between Toplace, lobbyists and developments in the Hills Shire, in Sydney’s outer north-west.
It is alleged senior Liberal Party figures were paid “substantial amounts of money” by Nassif to fund the stacking of the council to get developments approved, and that those payments were made via “lobbying” or “consulting” companies.
The allegations were raised in June last year by NSW Liberal MP Ray Williams.
On February 28 four of Nassif’s properties were raided by the NSW Police Organised Crime Squad and his 27-year-old lawyer daughter, Ashlyn Nassif, the executive manager of Toplace, was arrested and charged with fraud.
The NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard a far-right “Christian” group called NSW Reformers was created by Ellis, 30, and other senior members of the NSW Liberal Party, including Christian and Jean-Claude Perrottet, brothers of NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
The inquiry, wound up ahead of Saturday’s NSW election, has heard a number of “key leaders and operators” of the far-right group created companies and “lobbying” firms providing “consulting” services to property developers.
It is alleged “holding companies” and the process of “registering shareholdings in the names of wives” was used to “try to obfuscate the real ownership structure and hide details on the lobbyist register”.
The source of the three forensic dossiers is not known, however the material is highly-detailed, meticulous, and has been officially tendered by the inquiry.
On February 10, the “current clients” list for Beckington Group on the NSW Government Lobbyists Register showed 10 companies, five of them marked “active”.
Yet by February 15, all ten had been erased entirely, with none of those entities even showing up as “historical” clients of Beckington Group.
Among the companies to have disappeared completely are “Greyhound Racing New South Wales”; “Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria Ltd” and “Associated Kiln Driers Pty Limited” — all listed as “active” clients of Beckington Group on February 10.
“Beckington Group clients Toplace and nine other businesses — including a company called Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria Ltd — were erased entirely”
Among Beckington Group’s “current clients” on February 10 but not checked “active”, were Toplace; “Ultra Business Solutions Pty Ltd”; and another entity stated as “Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria Ltd” but with a different ABN.
Only three “clients” — all of them new — now appear on the register, “Responsible Wagering Australia Holdings Limited”; “Spirecorp Pty. Ltd.”; and “TCG Developments Pty Ltd”.
The registered shows those three entities were added to the register — under the “changed by” field — by Christian Ellis.
Because the information for the ten clients that appeared at February 10 has been erased from the official register entirely, there is no associated “changed by” field — and so no record of who deleted the data.
Lobbyist register showing Beckington Group clients on February 10 (top); and the same search on February 15 (bottom). Source: NSW Parliament
Beckington Group Pty Ltd was created with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in July 2019 by Ellis and fellow NSW Reformer Jeremy Greenwood, holding 50 per cent each.
On December 20 2019, the dossier states, the ownership was changed, with the 50 per cent owned by Ellis shifting to a company called Belloc Associates Pty Ltd.
Searches show Belloc Associates Pty Ltd is 100 per cent owned by Cecil Piat, Ellis’s wife.
In a further twist, the true owner of that 50 per cent stake in Beckington Group is masked.
ASIC filings show Belloc Associates is the legal holder of the stake, but not the “beneficial owner” — meaning the actual owner.
In Australia there is no publicly accessible register of “beneficial owners”, meaning the identity of the true owner is hidden.
“The use of ‘non-beneficially’ held shares, holding companies and registering shareholdings and directorships in the name of wives was used to try to obfuscate the real ownership structure and hide details on the lobbyist register,” the dossier states.
“One possible reason for the obfuscation of the true ownership is that the constitution of the NSW Liberal Party prevents registered lobbyists from serving on the powerful State Executive, to which Christian Ellis was elected”.
As revealed by The Klaxon late last month, another “lobby group” named in the parliamentary inquiry public hearings, “Macquarie Consulting”, is 100 per cent owned by Anita Perrottet, the wife of Charles Perrottet.
As further revealed, the website for Macquarie Consulting has been deleted from the internet.
Archived copies of the site for the company — which is not and has never been a registered government lobbyist — show it advertised its “expertise” as “facilitating” partnerships with “governments”.
Ellis, Charles Perrottet, and Jean-Claude Perrottet all refused to give evidence to the public inquiry, despite it employing professional document servers in an attempt to locate them and force them to appear.
“Our party will do well to have people like Chrisitan (Ellis) elected to positions of state council” – Angus Taylor
One of the ten Beckington Group clients to be erased entirely from the NSW Government lobbyist register is Greyhounds Racing NSW.
“This was where key NSW Reformer Robert Assaf worked for may years in numerous roles,” the dossier states.
“It was known in Liberal Party circles that it was Jeremy Greenwood and Christian Ellis that got Robert Assaf the job at Greyhounds.
“The official introduction of Christian Ellis, Jeremy Greenwood and Jean Nassif was done around early 2020 through Robert Assaf and the legal counsel of Toplace, who was personally known to Robert Assaf,” the dossier states.
It states: “The relationship between Beckington and Greyhounds would grow over the years as the lines between professional and political continued to become blurred”.
For much of the time Ellis has been at Beckington Group he was also a government employee.
The LinkedIn profile of Ellis has been deleted, but a version has been captured by a website aggregator.
It states that from January-April 2019 he was “policy advisor” to NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts; and from May-July 2019 he was “policy advisor” for NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, who resigned from the position last month over failing to declare he owned shares in toll road giant Transurban.
Ellis’ resume states he was “policy advisor” for “Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia”, from “Nov 2017 – current”. From October 2017 to August 2018 the Federal Resources Minister was Matt Canavan.
Earlier this month it emerged that in the second half of last year – after NSW MP Williams exposed the allegations of serious wrongdoing – Ellis sought to be appointed to the Liberal Party’s constitutional standing committee.
Ellis sent an email containing endorsements from senior Liberal figures.
NSW Planning Minister Roberts described Ellis as “a torch-bearer in reforming our constitution”.
Tudehope said: “Christian has been a servant of the party for many years and is one of the few who can genuinely claim he has the backing of a lot of grassroots members”.
“(Ellis is) a man of strong convictions and a vision for taking our party forward” – NSW Treasurer Matt Kean
Former Energy Minister, now Opposition Treasury spokesman, Angus Taylor said: “our party will do well to have people like Chrisitan elected to positions of state council”.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said Ellis was “a man of strong convictions and a vision for taking our party forward”.
Ellis’s resume states his first government role was in the office of the NSW Finance Minister, a position he held until April 2015.
From April 2014 to January 2017 the NSW Finance Minister was Dominic Perrottet.
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