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The company of colourful Sydney property developer Jean Nassif has been accused of trying to discredit the builder commissioner by falsely claiming he asked for a $5 million bribe.
The extraordinary claims were made by Building Commissioner David Chandler at a Budget Estimates hearing on Wednesday.
NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler during a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
Last year Nassif’s company Toplace Group, which has previously been described in parliament as a “dodgy ­developer” with “one of the worst records in the residential building industry,” was slapped with a prohibition order preventing it from selling apartments until it to fixed serious defects at its Skyview development at Castle Hill.
Chandler told parliament that at a meeting with Toplace over the issue, an unnamed person from Toplace read an email they claimed to have received. The email supposedly stipulated that if Toplace paid $5 million into a trust account “they could make the building commissioner go away on Skyview.”
Chandler suggested that they go straight to the police to lodge a complaint but the Toplace executive declined that offer, parliament heard.
Nissy Nassif and her husband Jean Nassif picutred on Instagram.
But according to Chandler, Toplace didn’t stop there. Chandler said that that same day a journalist was offered the story about his $5 million attempted bribe and was told by the Toplace person, “Don’t you know the building commissioner is corrupt. What are you doing about it?”
Around the same time, minister Kevin Anderson was bailed up at a function and was told: “Pity about your building commissioner being corrupt.”
“I took offence at the fact that someone was out briefing, backgrounding both media and politicians,” Chandler told the hearing about the false claims he was on the take.
“I don’t know what substance abuse they might have been on to suddenly believe that might have worked, but you know me that would not have worked at all and it didn’t change the way we dealt with that matter at all,” Chandler told the hearing.
Toplace, which claims it is “proudly one of Australia’s largest privately owned building, construction and property development companies,” is owned by Nassif, 54.
Nassif hit the headlines in 2019 when a video went viral of him presenting his wife Nissy with a canary yellow Lamborghini worth almost half a million dollars.
Nassif famously said, “Congratulations, Mrs Nassif. You like?”
However, Nassif was later charged with punching his wife several times in the face and dragging her around the house. He pleaded not guilty and when the matter came to court in July, the charges, which included assault and stalking and intimidation, were dismissed because his 34-year-old wife, who was in Lebanon, failed to attend court.
In October 2019 Nassif, reportedly a high-roller at The Star casino, pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited drug. When police apprehended him with a small bag of cocaine at the entrance to The Star in September, Nassif told police: “It was for myself. It’s my wife’s birthday and I was gonna take it tonight”.
Nassif was given an 18-month conditional release order and because of his previous good character no conviction was recorded.
In June Liberal MP Ray Williams lashed out at Nassif and his company claiming senior members of his own party “were paid significant funds in order to arrange to put new councillors on The Hills Shire Council who would be supportive of future Toplace development applications.”
In 2021, then Greens MP David Shoebridge told parliament that Toplace was responsible for a “series of dangerous and defective buildings” including the Skyview apartments, Macquarie Towers in Parramatta and a development at Charles Street in Canterbury.
Comment has been sought from Toplace and Nassif.
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