Lifestyles of the rich and infamous

By Kate McClymont Vanda Carson and Damien Murphy
Updated November 9 2012 - 3:53am, first published September 8 2009 - 8:00pm

THE assassination of such a low-life character as Michael McGurk in such a high-life suburb as Cremorne was always going to focus attention on the city's different tribes, but now Sydney and the state Labor Government have become a free-fire zone mixing unfounded gossip and claims of graft and corruption.Like a never-ending episode of The Sopranos on the harbour, the murder mystery is leaching down through various layers of society and touching politics, business and even sport.The Rees Government, already struggling with self-inflicted wounds, has been rocked by the possibility that McGurk had a tape exposing corruption surrounding land deals in Labor's western Sydney heartland.Echoes of the 1985 ''Love Boat'' scandal - when the prostitute Virginia Perger alleged Graham Richardson and other political figures had sex with her at sea - have been stirred by revelations that McGurk provided prostitutes for sportsmen and businessmen. He also had a penchant for sailing on the harbour aboard luxury cruisers with the same women.The television series Underbelly has been criticised by some law authorities for airbrushing Sydney and Melbourne colourful racing personalities into attractive men and women of washboard stomachs and expensive hairstyles. The story and cast of characters in this political scandal are quite different and nowhere near so photogenic. Among the players:Michael McGurk, a Glasgow-born standover man and loan shark with a mysterious past of multiple IDs and birth dates, he arrived in Australia 16 years ago and rose from selling lights to enforcement, a career that gave him a swish address in Cremorne, children at top schools and the Mercedes-Benz in which he was shot.On July 29 McGurk lunched with Herald reporters and ate a $68 Waygu sirloin (medium) and $5 hot chocolate. He also told them he had a tape recording revealing politicians had been bribed for development approvals.Graham Richardson, the former Labor Party powerbroker and federal cabinet minister who resigned from Parliament following a visa scam in the Marshall Islands.His latter-day career as a Mr Fixit for the likes of Kerry Packer, Lang Walker and Ron Medich has seen him battle the Tax Office over secret Swiss bank accounts, mentions in various royal commissions, and the subject of other allegations that businessmen had supplied him with prostitutes.Ron Medich, a Point Piper property developer who funded McGurk's business as a lender of last resort. He also signed over power of attorney to McGurk when on holidays, but they fell out over the employee tickling the till.Adam Tilley, socialite financier whose Point Piper house was allegedly firebombed by McGurk. Subsequent charges were dropped. The house was to be redeveloped into apartments with Medich.Bob Ell, billionaire property developer who hired McGurk to collect debts and scout property deals.Richie Vereker, a pensioner who did odd jobs for Ell. He donated $75,000 to the ALP and also put McGurk in touch with Richardson, employed by Medich as a lobbyist, to discuss the tape.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.


(min cost $0)

or signup to continue reading

See subscription options

Get the latest Newcastle news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.