AFP asked to probe Stuart Robert's China trip

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have been asked to investigate Stuart Robert's China trip by Labor amid claims it could constitute a criminal act involving 'abuse of public office'.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has written to the AFP, despite Mr Robert announcing on Friday he would step down from the frontbench.

An investigation revealed he had shares in a trust linked to mining company Nimrod Resources, whose chairman Paul Marks is a generous Liberal donor.

Labor had called for Mr Robert to be sacked over the trip in 2014, during which he appeared in a signing ceremony for a mining deal between Nimrod Resources and a Chinese business.

Mr Robert's conduct has been the subject of an internal investigation by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, who concluded that Mr Robert had breached ministerial standards,'' Mr Dreyfus wrote.

"However, the publicly reported facts indicate that Mr Robert's conduct may also have involved serious criminality.''

"It is clear that Mr Robert sought to benefit Mr Marks, a significant Liberal donor, but the revelation that Mr Robert himself stood to gain financially through his shareholdings in a company related to Nimrod is even more serious.

"The Prime Minister has been careful to say only that this created an "impression" that Mr Robert stood to gain personally from his trip. Whether he intended to do so now merits a proper police investigation.

"I note in particular that section 142.2 of the Criminal Code, "abuse of public office", makes it an offence for a Minister to exercise any influence or engage in any conduct in the course of his or her duties with the intention to dishonestly obtain a benefit for himself or herself or another person.

"This offence applies even where a person merely "holds himself or herself out" as acting as a Minister.''

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