Flamboyant Lidcombe property developer and suspended Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer has laughed off claims he “bought” his younger sister Mary’s victory at last weekend’s Miss Lebanon Australia beauty pageant, following a complaint lodged with NSW Fair Trading.
Disgruntled entrants and their supporters have taken to social media to air their grievances over the pageant since Sunday’s event, held at Doltone House in Pyrmont in front of 700 people who had each paid $150 to be there.
“It was just feral, most of the girls knew there was something funny going on and the word spread across the room pretty quickly when Mary was named the winner,” attendee Bee Batti told PS.
“The way Salim was behaving after she was crowned you would have thought he was wearing the sash … it was very disappointing for all the girls who had entered and been in it the whole way through.
“They should not be allowed to sponsor the pageant and then enter it as well.”
Salim Mehajer poses with his sister Mary Mehajer after her win in the Miss Lebanon Australia 2016 contest.
However, a NSW Fair Trading spokesperson denied reports on Thursday that it had launched an “investigation”, explaining that one complaint had been received and it was yet to assess whether the body had jurisdiction to investigate or not.
NSW Fair Trading does have jurisdiction over charities and the Miss Lebanon pageant was promoted as a “fundraiser”.
Mehajer told PS his family business had been a sponsor of the pageant for several years and that his other sister, Aisha, was a contestant last year “but she came fourth”.
The event’s organiser Joe Khoury added, “We have independent judges that are not from the Lebanese community, their decision is final.
“The Mehajer family has been a long-time sponsor but it is ridiculous to say they paid for Mary’s success, because the judges were independent.”
Khoury admitted he was a long-time friend of the Mehajer family and was among those who offered his personal blessing to Salim Mehajer during his high-profile wedding last year.
He has also been a regular visitor to the Mehajer family home.
Khoury also indicated that the Mehajer family was the only family of a contestant to sponsor the pageant and confirmed that Mary was a late entry.
“But some girls manage to succeed with only a few weeks’ training compared to others who have been in the pageant from the beginning,” Khoury told PS.
Mary Mehajer crowned winner of Miss Lebanon Australia beauty contest