BRIAN Flannery, whose net worth is estimated to be $600 million, was dismissive of the amazing windfall he was about to receive when - after only eight weeks - his $640,000 investment in the mining company at the centre of a New South Wales corruption scandal was about to skyrocket to $50 million.
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption heard that at the end of September 2010, Mr Flannery paid $640,000 for shares in Cascade Coal, the company that allegedly was corruptly awarded a coal exploration licence in 2009 by then NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald.
In November 2010, White Energy, the company of which Mr Flannery is the chairman, offered to buy Cascade for $500 million. This would have made Mr Flannery's Cascade investment worth $50 million.
The commission is inquiring into whether the family of controversial former Labor MP Eddie Obeid received inside information from Mr Macdonald that allowed the Obeids and their associates to buy key farms in the Mount Penny area before Mr Macdonald announced that the area would be part of a coal tender.
The Obeids also negotiated a 25 per cent stake in the winning bidder for the licence, Cascade Coal.
Mr Flannery's business partner and fellow White Energy director and Cascade investor, Travers Duncan, told the commission on Monday that he was furious when he discovered in early 2010 that the Obeids were the secret owners of 25 per cent of Cascade and he insisted on their removal.
The commission has heard that the Obeids were offered $60 million to ''sanitise'' Cascade of their presence. To date, Cascade has paid the family $28 million. Mr Flannery told the commission he had no idea that the $28 million payment was going to the Obeids. Instead, he thought it was possibly a corrupt payment to ensure a rival company dropped out of the tender process.
The possibility of this illegality so alarmed him he decided White Energy had to pull out of the deal to purchase Cascade, he told ICAC. But Mr Flannery did not mention these concerns when he notified the ASX in April, 2011. When asked why he did not alert any regulatory bodies of his suspicions, he said: ''It wasn't necessary.''
The inquiry continues.