Building boss Googled can ‘investigators trace deleted WhatsApp messages’

Jacob said the pair had a falling out in 2019 over the council’s stance on infrastructure issues, which led him to end the relationship.

However, it was later revealed Jacob had deleted the phone numbers of both Tsirekas and Chidiac.

Jacob said Chidiac had driven past him on the streets of Drummoyne one day and told him he had been raided by the commission. “He was implying our names were somehow involved as well,” Jacob said.

“I said to him: I don’t know you should be telling us this… Mr Chidiac said – and I found this very strange – he said the commission had no problem in him telling us about his raid.”

Darams suggested Jacob had deleted text messages because he was “concerned about what might be recorded”. But Jacob said he was not concerned he would be raided, and that he had only deleted the phone numbers because he no longer wanted to be involved with either man.

He also admitted to sending Chidiac long documents about infrastructure proposals using the social media app Wickr, which can auto-destruct messages. But when Darams asked whether it was the case that Jacob “wanted to hide the correspondence”, he replied: “Not to hide, a lot of people use it now. I was using it for the main purpose of big files.”

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The commission heard Prolet purchased several properties to the east of Rhodes train station throughout 2014, hoping to capitalise on Sydney’s property boom and the land’s proximity to public transport.

The commission alleged in its opening statements that Chidiac sold his services to clients, which included the defunct iProsperity Group and Billbergia, on the basis that he could introduce them to people and his clients could then draw upon his relationships with them.

The inquiry last week heard that Tsirekas and Chidiac were long-time friends, and had travelled overseas together several times between 2016 and 2019. It heard Chidiac sometimes paid Tsirekas’ expenses on those trips.

Tsirekas has taken personal leave from the council, and previously said he would defend the allegations.

The inquiry continues on Thursday.

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