Giving evidence ... former NSW minister Ian Macdonald. Photo: James Brickwood
Former NSW minister Ian Macdonald has told a corruption inquiry that it was simply "by chance" that a mining exploration licence was granted over land owned by the family of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is probing whether Mr Macdonald, 63, rorted a coal mining tender process in the NSW Upper Hunter's Bylong Valley in 2008, and how Mr Obeid and his family may have profited from it.
The ICAC alleges Mr Macdonald gave the Obeids inside knowledge that allowed the family to profit, potentially by $100 million.
It has also been alleged that Mr Macdonald stood to make millions in kickbacks.
Giving evidence on Monday, Mr Macdonald said it was just by chance that the Mt Penny mining tenement was created over land owned by the Obeids.
"Did it just happen by chance?" Commissioner David Ipp asked.
"Well, it has to be by chance," Mr Macdonald replied.
He said he was unaware the Obeids had interest in land over the critical tenement at the time it was created in 2008.
"It had nothing to do with me, I had no idea they were doing that," he told the inquiry.
Counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson SC, said he would seek to show that Mr Macdonald created the tenement "in mind to profit your friends the Obeids".
"Do you accept that?" Mr Watson asked.
"I don't accept that," Mr Macdonald replied.
His evidence is continuing.