Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

Developer Jean Nassif declines to front inquiry into 'impropriety' claims in Sydney's north-west

Jean Nassif, the managing director of Sydney property group Toplace. (Supplied)

Sydney property developer Jean Nassif has declined to appear before a NSW parliamentary inquiry into the Hills Shire Council before the state election, saying he will be in a remote part of Lebanon at the time.

In a letter to the inquiry, Mr Nassif said he does not intend to return to Australia before March, asking the hearing be postponed "if my evidence is needed".

The inquiry has hearings scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday next week. 

In his letter, the Toplace managing director also denied paying anyone for favourable treatment of his developments, as alleged by Castle Hill MP Ray Williams in Parliament last year.

The inquiry is looking into allegations of impropriety made against members of the the council, in Sydney's north west, and property developers in the area. 

In June, Liberal MP Mr Williams alleged, under parliamentary privilege, that senior members of his party and state executive, and a former Hills councillor received payment from Mr Nassif.

The veteran MP claimed the payments were designed to garner support for a proposed development around the Cherrybrook Metro station.

In parliament, Mr Williams went on to suggest that existing members of the local council had then been replaced with others who would be more amenable to Mr Nassif's proposal. 

Mr Nassif's company Toplace has been the subject of numerous complaints regarding building defects in its developments.

The company has previously it stands by its projects and has always fixed any defects where they've occurred. 

Mr Nassif gained prominence in 2019 when a social media post of him presenting his wife with a yellow Lamborghini went viral.

He and the company were recently stripped of their building licences — although they are currently able to continue operations after winning a stay on the bans, while the decision is reviewed. 

"I trust you will have no difficulty accommodating this," Mr Nassif wrote to the inquiry chair, Greens MLC Sue Higginson, referring to his request to delay the hearing. 

"The allegations by Mr Williams were made on 23 June 2022 and the committee only called this inquiry in December of last year. 

"If the committee can wait six months to call the inquiry, it is unreasonable to assert that I must urgently return to Australia."

Mr Nassif addressed criticism from Liberal MPs David Elliott and Ray Williams, who both sit in Sydney's north west. (AAP: Dean Lewins/Joel Carrett)

Mr Nassif denies Mr Williams' allegation of "direct misconduct", which is that he paid to receive support for his development or for any interference regarding Liberal pre-selections for the council. 

In the letter, Mr Nassif said he has not had any communications with the new Hills councillors. 

"I have not met any of the current councillors of the Hills Shire Council," he said. 

"I am not aware if they support my developments. 

"I am not aware if they are more or less supportive of my development than the previous councillors."

Mr Nassif argued that the opinions of councillors are largely irrelevant, as his development was rejected through a state-led process. 

"Any residual discretion on the part of council would be subject to Department of Planning review .... and any subsequent DAs would be assessed by an independent panel in the first instance and liable to Land and Environment Court review," he said. 

Mr Nassif also took a swipe at NSW Transport Minister David Elliott, who is leaving state parliament at the next election due to a boundary redistribution. 

"I understand that Mr David Elliott has been urging journalists for some time to report on some impropriety regarding the process and each time the journalists have refused Mr Elliott's solicitations," he alleged.

"It is clear that these allegations have been designed to discredit the internal opponents of Mr Elliott by association with me with a view for Mr Elliott to retain his seat in Parliament."

In the letter, Mr Nassif also accused Mr Williams of being the source of a 'dossier' which was in an episode of the ABC's Four Corners program investigating the factional war going on inside the NSW Liberal Party, a few week's after he made the Hills Shire Council allegations in Parliament

"The intrepid young journalist, Mr Sean Nicholls, exhibited a 'dossier' provided to the ICAC from a 'senior person within the Alex Hawke faction'," Mr Nassif wrote. 

"No doubt that person is Mr Williams as the return letter is addressed to Mr Williams [albeit, blurred]."

The ABC has contacted Mr Williams, and Mr Elliott for comment. 

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.