More than 15 people have been arrested as part of a fraud investigation into Victorian Labor’s infamous rorts-for-votes scandal.
It comes less than a week after the criminal investigation was opened into the systematic misuse of $388,000 by 21 past and present Labor MPs in the party’s winning 2014 election campaign.
It’s understood no MPs have been brought in for questioning.
But Victoria police confirmed a number of people across regional and metropolitan areas were arrested to be interviewed by police on Thursday.
Several others in New South Wales and the Northern Territory were also taken in for questioning.
A total of 17 people were being interviewed.
“As this is an active and ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to provide further comment at this time,” Victoria police said.
A spokeswoman for the premier, Daniel Andrews, said the government had no comment to make at this stage.
A fraud and extortion investigation was opened on Friday, months after Victoria’s ombudsman found publicly paid electorate staff were directed to campaign for candidates.
The money was later repaid.
Police declined to investigate the scandal in 2016 but the fraud squad was later called in following a letter of complaint from the Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue.
The opposition has been calling on the six cabinet ministers named in the ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report, including attorney general Martin Pakula, to resign.
Days after the investigation was announced, the deputy premier, James Merlino, wrote to the chief commissioner, Graham Ashton, requesting an investigation into 18 current and former Liberal and National MPs.
He alleged they used electorate staff for political campaigning during normal business hours but refused to release details of the government’s claims.