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Niece of union boss testifies in NSW court

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March 13, 2018

Former union secretary Derrick Belan's niece has told a court of extravagant personal spending.

The niece of former NSW union boss Derrick Belan spent thousands of dollars of branch money to buy him "anything he asked for" - from business shirts and shoes to lap-band surgery for his partner and braces for his son, a court has heard.

Danielle O'Brien says she also used union credit cards and accounts to pay for his family holidays, storage units, car registration and personal legal fees, as well as items for herself.

Ms O'Brien, the former bookkeeper at the National Union of Workers NSW, detailed extravagant spending while giving evidence at Parramatta Local Court on Tuesday.

Belan has pleaded not guilty to 62 charges, mostly for obtaining financial advantage by deception related to his time as state secretary.

Ms O'Brien, who was in charge of paying and reconciling the union's accounts, recalled the time she queried a charge on her uncle's corporate credit card to the luxury Versace hotel on the Gold Coast.

"He told me to f*** off," she told the court.

"He was a bit angry that I questioned him about it."

In 2010, he suggested she get her hair done "so you look nice" for the office Christmas party.

"He said 'just put it on the card'," she told the court.

For a number of years after that, she would call him to ask if she could use the card to buy other items - mostly online, the court heard.

Their conversations were "usually quite brief - I'd usually say 'can I have this?', he'd say 'yes', I'd say 'thank you'."

He eventually told her to stop asking for permission and if she wanted something to "just get it".

Ms O'Brien said she took that as him giving her "free rein".

She told the court that in 2013 Belan called and asked for her to pay Dalcross Adventist Hospital for an operation for his then-partner, Paula Lancaster.

"I think it was for gastric band surgery," Ms O'Brien said.

She was also asked to pay about $1000 for holiday accommodation in Lake Conjola, on the NSW south coast, and some dinners.

"Business shirts, shoes, anything that he asked for," Ms O'Brien said.

Belan's barrister, Anton Duc, on Monday said his client did not defraud the union of "one cent" and was not involved in any of the conduct he is accused of.

The hearing continues.

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