Appearing before a Senate estimates committee, Mr Pezzullo said he had ordered a report into the history of Mr Maguire’s representations to the department after it came to light that he had made representations to Home Affairs or federal MPs about visas.
He said Home Affairs was running an investigation into the cash-for-visa scheme “in parallel” with the ICAC.
He confirmed a number of the individuals being investigated, but not Mr Maguire, were already of concern to the department.
“I am aware of the specific allegations, both in terms of the proceedings that are currently on foot before ICAC, but also in terms of the assistance that the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force is providing to the Independent Commission Against Corruption,” Mr Pezzullo told the committee.
“We are in discussions with ICAC to assist them, it’s of course a state body, but our practice is wherever possible if we can assist crime commissions or integrity commissions then we will.
“In checking the matters that are currently before ICAC, I can advise the committee certain individuals… have come to attention previously.”
Mr Pezzullo said he couldn’t yet say how many visas were connected to the scheme, but “I’m sure we will get to the point of working out how many visas, relating to how many physical persons, over what time period”.
“If it’s pertinent to the enforcement of federal laws, we will be taking action independently and in any event.”
Speaking generally, Mr Pezzullo said cash-for-visa scams undermined public trust in Australia’s visa system.
Appearing before the ICAC last week, Mr Maguire admitted he breached public trust and improperly used his position as an MP to gain a benefit between 2012 and 2018.
Mr Maguire confirmed he received tens of thousands of dollars from what the ICAC has called an illegitimate cash-for-visas scheme and did not declare that money.
Over three days in the witness box Mr Maguire admitted he used his office to run a fraudulent cash-for-visa scheme, accepted cash payments, offered property developers access to government for commissions and deliberately lost or destroyed devices in the wake of a looming corruption investigation.
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Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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