Eddie Obeid doesn't 'give a damn'
Eddie Obeid says he is a "victim of witch hunt," fronting the media outside his home after the Independent Commission Against Corruption found that he had acted corruptly.PT0M0S 620 349
Crooked Labor kingpin Eddie Obeid is throwing down the gauntlet to the state's top prosecutor, saying he has legal advice he will never face criminal charges as three fresh corruption findings are made against him.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption found on Thursday that Mr Obeid and his former political ally, Joe Tripodi, acted corruptly in relation to the Obeid family's secret business interests at Circular Quay.
The commission said Mr Tripodi ''deliberately [failed] to disclose'' to his cabinet colleagues that the Obeids owned two lucrative cafe leases at Circular Quay, which he renewed without a competitive tender in 2009.
Dishing up power plays: Former state MPs Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid were factional warriors of the Right in the Labor Party.
Mr Obeid was also found to have corruptly lobbied colleagues and public officials to favour his family's interests in two other ventures, including water licences over his Bylong Valley farm.
The ICAC recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider prosecuting Mr Obeid for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, but it said there was ''insufficient evidence'' for a similar charge to be considered against Mr Tripodi.
Outside his multimillion-dollar home in Hunters Hill on Thursday, Mr Obeid remained defiant. ''My legal advice is that the DPP will not lay any charges,'' he said.
''I am very confident that no court of law will take up any of these inquiries and I challenge ICAC to convince the DPP to take up any of those inquiries. We will defend it vigorously in a court of law where proper evidence is provided and our side of the story is able to be told.''
The latest three reports from ICAC's Operations Meeka, Cabot and Cyrus were tabled in the NSW Parliament on Thursday morning.
It is the first corruption finding against Mr Tripodi, who will be expelled from the Labor Party on Friday, and the fourth for Mr Obeid. Mr Tripodi said on Thursday he ''strenuously denied'' wrongdoing and was seeking legal advice on having the finding overturned.
Mr Obeid's friend, former NSW Maritime chief executive Steve Dunn, was also found to have acted corruptly by scrapping a policy that would have put the Obeid family's Circular Quay leases out to competitive tender. Criminal charges were not recommended against him.
The commission found that Mr Obeid, who left Parliament in 2011, engaged in corrupt conduct by misusing his position as an MP to enrich his family by lobbying parliamentary colleagues, including former ports ministers Mr Tripodi, Carl Scully, Eric Roozendaal and Michael Costa, as well as senior officials.
Mr Obeid did not disclose to Mr Scully, Mr Roozendaal or Mr Tripodi that his family had secret interests in cafe leases at Circular Quay at the time he was trying to gain benefits for retail leaseholders in the blue-ribbon location.
The former Labor powerbroker was also found to have acted corruptly in relation to his lobbying of senior bureaucrats to secure generous water licences at his family farm Cherrydale Park, near Bylong, as well as lobbying the former treasurer, Mr Costa, over Direct Health Solutions, a company in which his family also had a hidden interest.
The commission found that Mr Obeid improperly influenced Mr Dunn and Mark Duffy, the then head of the NSW Department of Water and Energy, in relation to the water licences but both public servants escaped a corruption finding in that inquiry.
The commission found that Mr Duffy was used by Mr Obeid to "unwittingly fulfil" the latter's expectations that his financial interests would be favoured.
Mr Obeid and his middle son Moses have received previous corrupt conduct findings against them over their involvement with former mining minister Ian Macdonald in a crooked coal deal that landed the Obeid family a $30 million windfall with the promise of up to another $100 million.
Mr Obeid's second-eldest son, Paul, escaped a corruption finding in relation to the Direct Health Solutions inquiry because the commission found there was "insufficient evidence [he] knew that his father intended to conceal the family involvement" in the business from Mr Costa.
Mr Obeid will have to wait until year's end to see if further corruption findings will be made against him in relation to Australian Water Holdings, an infrastructure company in which his family allegedly had a secret $3 million interest.
The latest inquiry was prompted by a Walkley award-winning investigation in 2012 by Linton Besser and Kate McClymont.
- with Kate Doak