The former Liberal Party candidate allegedly donated $ 37,000 to Melbourne Hospital to gain future influence over the Australian government on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, the court heard.
The leader of the Chinese community in Melbourne, Di San Ziong, left the Liberal Party after becoming the first accused under Australian foreign intervention law in November 2020.
Duong is accused of preparing or planning a foreign intervention that carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The allegations following the AFP and ASIO investigation into Duong, which the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard heard, included intercepted phone calls between Duong and the office of Federal Education Minister Alan Taj.
One of those calls included that Duong called a former employee from Mr. Taj’s office in March 2020 to offer assistance in obtaining test kits for COVID-19, defense attorney Neil Cleland told QC on Tuesday.
Interviewing an AFP informant, Mr Cleland said that a “series of interactions” between Mr Taj and Duong’s office did not lead to test kits for COVID-19, but led to a donation of $ 37,000 to Melbourne Royal Hospital.
Mr Cleland said Mr Taj’s office had made an inquiry as to whether there were any national security concerns regarding Duong before attending the donation ceremony to receive a “novelty check”, but he was told there were none.
However, at the time, Duong was under investigation by AFP and ASIO, and the Attorney General allowed Duong to intercept phone calls, Mr Cleland said.
An informant, known by the pseudonym Witness Three, said he did not know whether the Attorney General had informed members of the federal government about the investigation or the interceptions.
Witness 3 said that while tapping the phone it was found that when Duong was traveling to China, he was a member of a group affiliated with the Labor Department of the United Front of the Communist Party of China.
He said an AFP investigation alleges that Duong used the hospital’s donation as a way to gain future influence on Mr Taj and the federal government.
Duong, the Liberal candidate for Richmond in the 1996 election in Victoria, left the party after accusations in 2020.
He remains under a written undertaking not to leave and is to reappear on Wednesday when the hearing on recruitment continues.