Obeid pushed for windfall

ALP kingpin Eddie Obeid demanded a better price for his family’s property in talks with mining companies that took place months before his government called for tenders to mine the coal beneath it, his son Moses Obeid revealed yesterday.

During a sensational day of evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson SC, accused Moses Obeid of trying to save himself by blaming disgraced former resources minister Ian Macdonald.

‘‘You have come here today and you have tailored your evidence in a very very careful way to heap the blame on to Ian Macdonald,’’ he said.

Mr Obeid said: ‘‘I have not heaped the blame on to anyone ... I deny that.’’

The accusation followed  confessions from Mr Obeid that it was Mr Macdonald who had provided him a list of companies identical to those later invited to bid in a forthcoming tender.

The list included Monaro Mining, which  would go on to win six of the 11 coal exploration licences at play.

Mr Obeid accepted that he had gained access to the former resources minister Ian Macdonald through his father to discuss the issue of coal tenements around his family’s property in the Bylong Valley, and that together, this information led to a $75million windfall for the  family.

Since last November, the ICAC has been conducting public hearings into the 2008 tender and the circumstances in which the Obeid family secured millions of dollars in land negotiations and share options in two  mining areas.

Yesterday, the inquiry heard Moses pulled Mr Macdonald out of a meeting with his father and the former cabinet ministers Joe Tripodi, Michael Costa and Eric Roozendaal, to ask him the status of coal exploration licences affecting the Obeid property near Mudgee. 

This was in May, and the coal tender was not announced until September.

This meeting was one of 14 ‘‘extraordinary coincidences’’ the Commission heard that led to Mr Macdonald providing the list of companies to Moses Obeid.

But Moses Obeid   denied knowing at the time  that the family was trading on highly sensitive confidential information. 

‘‘When you say it was not valuable to you,’’ Mr Watson asked, ‘‘through one of the names on that list your family has obtained a benefit of $60million.’’

Moses Obeid said: ‘‘Indirectly yes, I would agree with that ... [but] I didn’t come to that until later on.’’ 

In sometimes fiery exchanges with counsel  Geoffrey Watson SC, Moses Obeid said he didn’t understand ‘‘business’’.

The inquiry continues today, with Eddie Obeid and his wife Judith Obeid expected to give evidence.

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