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Salim Mehajer swore false affidavit, ordered to pay cleaner $25,000

Salim Mehajer gave “implausible evidence” and swore a false affidavit as he attempted to avoid paying $25,000 to a cleaner for work done in a western Sydney apartment block, a court has found.

The controversial former deputy mayor of Auburn has been ordered to pay Anping Yan the outstanding debt as well as costs and interest after the cleaner successfully sued him.

Mr Yan sued Mr Mehajer in the Downing Centre Local Court, claiming he was not paid for cleaning the apartment block on John Street, Lidcombe, between September 2013 and July 2014.

Mr Mehajer argued he was not liable for the debt because, in September 2011, his company SM Project Developments subcontracted out the cleaning work to Downtown Project Developments, run by his sister Fatima Mehajer.

Mr Mehajer denied engaging Mr Yan in a personal capacity and only ever spoke to Mr Yan in his capacity as a director of SM Project Developments, which went into liquidation in February 2013.

He also denied that Mr Yan carried out the cleaning work.

However, magistrate Jennifer Atkinson found Mr Yan had proved, on the balance of probabilities, that he had entered into a contract with Mr Mehajer in circumstances in which Mr Mehajer was acting as an agent for Downtown.

Ms Atkinson said the evidence showed Mr Yan carried out the cleaning work and Mr Mehajer and Downtown failed to pay.

During a hearing in January, the court heard Mr Mehajer had sworn an affidavit that listed him as the sole director of Downtown.

But in cross-examination, he admitted he was banned from acting as a director and was not, in fact, a director of Downtown. He explained it away as a “typographical error”.

Ms Atkinson said it “necessarily raises concerns about his attention to detail as in that affidavit he was swearing that the allegations of fact contained in [his] defence were true”.

She found his evidence in many instances was “implausible”. She said his inability to recall a conversation in which he told Mr Yan he would be receiving about $72,000 from the strata company managing the John Street development was “interesting”, given he was apparently able to recall giving Mr Yan an explanation of the structure of the group of companies.

“I find it implausible that in the course of negotiating what would have a been a relatively straightforward cleaning contract, Mr Mehajer would attempt to explain the complex corporate structure of his group of companies to someone with a limited grasp of English or that Mr Yan would understand what he was apparently being told,” Ms Atkinson said.

Further, she found that Ms Mehajer “had a poor recollection of a great deal of what occurred around the relevant time”.

Neither sibling adduced any documentary or independent evidence to support their version of events including accounting records and their evidence was “vague”, the magistrate said.

Chinese-born Mr Yan has poor English skills and was assisted in court by an interpreter, although Ms Atkinson found he was making a genuine attempt to give honest answers.

Mr Mehajer, disqualified from managing corporations until November 2018, is facing charges over alleged electoral fraud offences.

He is also due in court next week charged with assaulting a Seven News reporter after earlier allegedly assaulting a taxi driver at the Star casino in the early hours of April 2.

Mr Mehajer shot to public attention following his lavish wedding to wife Aysha April Learmonth in 2015. The couple are now estranged.

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