Mystery man

TWEED businessman Geoffrey Pahoff doesn't like the public spotlight. But yesterday he found himself at the centre of attention as the mystery man behind a $1000 donation to the election campaign of some Tweed councillors.

The Tweed Heads resident, whose family building company Wintersun Projects works mainly on the Gold Coast, announced it was his donation which had been wrongly attributed to organisers of the annual Wintersun Festival.

The donation had caused a political storm after the Wintersun Festival which receives a public handout from Tweed Shire Council each year denied it was responsible.

The mystery was also cited by NSW Local Government Minister Tony Kelly last week when he announced a Royal Commission-style investigation into the council's decisions and dealings.

Mr Pahoff, who yesterday described himself as a "deeply private person who values his and his family's privacy" said the donation should never have been publicly disclosed without his consent but he was forced to come forward to shed some light on the mystery.

The company which collected donations for pro-business candidates in the campaign for the March council election, Tweed Directions, had apparently wrongly told the State Electoral Office the Wintersun Festival had given $1000.

Mr Pahoff said he had written a personal cheque but slipped a business card identifying himself as a director of Wintersun Projects Pty Ltd into the envelope.

He said he only became aware of the row over the donation when he returned to the Tweed after touring around Australia for five weeks and someone showed him a story in that day's Daily News.

He said his revelation should prove there were no conspiracies, and no dirty dealings.

Tweed Directions secretary Graham Staerk yesterday said he had apologised to Mr Pahoff over the blunder, adding: "One small administrative error has caused a kerfuffle beyond its weight".

"Every i was dotted, t crossed, but human error meant some detail was got wrong," he said.

"We regret that. We will be lodging a revised return... and that is the end of the matter."

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