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Luke Costin

Watchdog finds no corrupt conduct in Barilaro trade job

A NSW watchdog has found no evidence of corrupt conduct behind the appointment of John Barilaro to a plum overseas trade role.

The appointment of the former deputy premier to the $500,000-a-year role as NSW's New York trade ambassador in June 2022 sparked political outrage, several inquiries and the resignation of a cabinet minister.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption ran an investigation into the trade department's recruiting, compelling various people to provide evidence and documents.

The eight-month probe has ended, the commission said on Monday afternoon.

"The investigation did not identify any evidence of corrupt conduct," it said.

"The commission does not propose taking any further action with respect to the matter."

Mr Barilaro was offered the New York job in May last year and was due in the Big Apple in July. But he relinquished the post just two weeks after his position was announced in June, citing intense media scrutiny.

A parliamentary committee heard a candidate had been selected before Mr Barilaro requested changes to how the recruitment process was conducted and retired from politics in October 2021.

The preferred candidate, former public servant Jenny West, told an inquiry Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown informed her the job would be a "present for someone".

This claim was disputed by Ms Brown, who said the offer was withdrawn after communication broke down between Ms West and the government.

Mr Barilaro was selected after the government embarked on a second recruitment round.

An initial report by the committee found Ms Brown had been indirectly influenced by then-trade minister Stuart Ayres during Mr Barilaro's hiring.

She was subsequently sacked with a payout of at least $405,000.

After Mr Ayres resigned portfolios including investment, trade and sport over a potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct, he was cleared of any legal wrongdoing.

The commission said its investigation examined whether Mr Barilaro, Mr Ayres, Ms Brown or any other public official breached public trust, or exercised their official functions dishonestly or partially, or adversely affected the honest or impartial exercise of official functions by any public official.

The commission chose to make a "limited dissemination ... for information purposes" of evidence obtained during the investigation to Michael Coutts-Trotter, the secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

That information remains subject to secrecy laws.

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday denied Mr Barilaro had acted inappropriately citing independent reports commissioned by the government.

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