ICAC adjourns, six and a half hours after Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos entered the witness box. His evidence is finished, no doubt to his relief.
There are indications the inquiry will run until the end of next week. It was originally expected to finish on Friday.
That concludes our live blog. Thank you for reading.
"I wonder whether the senator might be excused" #ICAC counsel Geoffrey Watson says at the end of a long day. See you tomorrow at 10 am.— Michaela Whitbourn (@MWhitbourn) April 3, 2014
The witness list for tomorrow at ICAC has been updated. We had been expecting to hear from former NSW Liberal minister Chris Hartcher's one-time adviser Tim Koelma.
He is no longer appearing tomorrow, but a string of Liberal lobbyists who were paid handsomely by Australian Water to talk about sewerage pipes and drains will be up, including Australian Hotels Association NSW chief executive Paul Nicolaou and party powerbroker Michael Photios.
Sinodinos tells his own barrister that he was making assiduous efforts to attract "cornerstone investors" to Australian Water but it was "chicken and egg": the company needed a public-private partnership with the government.
On the thorny subject of his $200,000 salary, Sinodinos says he "hoped in a business sense I was a door-opener".
He says he wasn't brought on board as a "second chief financial officer", chief executive or political lobbyist.
Sinodinos' own barrister, Tony Bannon, SC, is up and questioning his client.
Unsurprisingly, this is the friendliest exchange at ICAC all day.
Counsel for Eddie Obeid, former Media Watch host Stuart Littlemore, SC, is on his feet and questioning Sinodinos.
Commissioner Megan Latham laughs at one point, before apologising and insisting she wasn't laughing at him.
"You never even laugh at my jokes, Commisioner!" Littlemore rejoins.
Latham says that Sinodinis is "anxious to finish today" but his own lawyer still has to question him. ICAC typically adjourns at 4 pm.Back to top
Sinodinos' barrister Tony Bannon, SC, suspects the legal eagle acting for Rod De Aboitiz is asking questions aimed at his Federal Court case rather than the ICAC inquiry.
"It's no secret there are other proceedings on foot," Commissioner Megan Latham says. "I don't want this to start unravelling into a general free for all."
Sinodinos admits he reassured De Aboitiz in May 2010 about his concerns about financial issues at Australian Water.
His evidence suggests he did very little.
Daniel Feller, SC, the barrister for disgruntled shareholders in Australian Water including Rod De Aboitiz (the financial whizz branded a "smart arse" by Sinodinos' silk) is on his feet and questioning the Liberal heavyweight.
Incidentally, De Aboitiz is suing Sinodinos, former NSW Treasurer Michael Costa and other current and former directors of Australian Water in the Federal Court to recover his investment in the company. The directors are fighting the claims.
Watson has finished his robust questioning of Sinodinos.
Now other legal eagles are cross-examining him, starting with Sydney Water's formidable brief Bruce Oslington, SC.
We're back on the delicate matter of former Sydney Water boss Kerry Schott.
She was referred to as a "bitch" in an email sent to Sinodinos - a term also favoured by Eddie Obeid, apparently - because she was blocking a PPP between Australian Water and Sydney Water.
"I condemn it. I think it's awful," Sinodinos says. "It doesn't reflect very well on the people who said it."
Sinodinos admits he knew crooked Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid's youngest son Eddie junior was employed by Australian Water's Queensland operation.
He also says he met John McGuigan, who was found corrupt in a previous ICAC inquiry into a coal deal linked to the Obeid family, to discuss his potential investment in Australian Water.
Sinodinos says he was unaware the Obeids invested $3 million in Australian Water. The family insists the money was a loan but ICAC says the family were "secret stakeholders" in the company.Back to top
Sinodinos says he was aware that Liberal powerbroker Michael Photios was on a monthly retainer of $5000 to lobby for Australian Water at a time when it was struggling to pay its tax.
"I saw it as a short term arrangement," Sinodinos says.
He says a proposal - later abandoned - to give Photios a $1 million bonus "on financial close of PPP" was not appropriate.
Well, that clears that up. Sinodinos says he didn't reveal to the O'Farrell government that he stood to make up to $20 million if it agreed to a partnership with Australian Water Holdings because it had nothing to do with the "merits" of the proposal.
"I think they would have understood officers of the company would have benefited," Sinodinos says.
Sinodinis said didn't mention to O'Farrell or Greg Pearce he had "skin in the game" when lobbying them. They didn't ask, he said #icac— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 3, 2014
Nick Di Girolamo, Obeid associate and chief executive of Australian Water Holdings, asked Sinodinos in a May 2011 email to ring "BOF" (that's Premier Barry O'Farrell to the great unwashed) to lobby for the company.
Di Girolamo wanted O'Farrell and then Finance Minister Greg Pearce to direct Sydney Water to negotiate for a public-private partnership with Australian Water.
The inquiry has heard that could have made the Obeid family a cheeky $60 million.
Sinodinos says he didn't think it was appropriate to call the premier. He did speak to Pearce, who subsequently complained he was being "over-lobbied" by Australian Water.
Di Girolamo later got a meeting with O'Farrell and Pearce.
"There was pressure being brought to bear on senior Liberal Party politicians, do you agree?" Watson asks.
"Well representations were being made, yes," Sinodinos says.
Former NSW Liberal Premier Nick Greiner gets a nod at ICAC.
Australian Water Holdings notes suggest he was willing to support the company by stating publicly that it was set up to be a competitor to Sydney Water.
Asked if Greiner's endorsement would have given Australian Water a "political advantage", Sinodinos says: "Or just a normal advantage".
"It's not just going down to the local fish and chip shop and asking for support," counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, retorts.
"This is a former premier of NSW."
Watson is making the point Sinodinos was using his political connections to benefit Australian Water.
ICAC is shown a July 2010 chain of emails between the office of the then NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell and Sinodinos when he was deputy chairman of Australian Water.
Pete McConnell, O'Farrell's then chief of staff, agreed to write a letter from O'Farrell supporting Australian Water's plan for a lucrative partnership with the then Kenneally Labor government.
"Comrade," McConnell writes. "I have a letter from BOF to [Australian Water CEO] Nick Di Girolamo on my desk...Can you let me know what things you want covered and what form of words."
Sinodinos quips McConnell was adopting the language of the Liberal Party's lefty "enemies". He agrees he used his political connections "to raise a matter".
The Liberal Senator says the final letter was "appropriate...from Barry's perspective".Back to top
Watson is getting straight to it. Was Sinodinos appointed to the Australian Water Holdings board to assist the company politically?
"I came on board for a number of purposes," Sinodinos says.
He tells the inquiry he had amassed an "extensive array of business and political connections" since the late 1980s.
We are off and racing for an arvo of "I don't recalls". Arfur is wiping his brow with his hand. Can't be pleasant. #icac— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 3, 2014
ICAC resumes after lunch. Sinodinos is sitting quietly in the witness box, waiting for counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, to start questioning.
Arthur Sinodinos must have looked forward to lunch after grilling from Geoffrey Watson, SC. Bit like Michael Clarke facing Morkel. #ICAC— Mark Coultan (@mcoultan) April 3, 2014
And here is a summary of the morning's proceedings from Kate McClymont and Michaela Whitbourn:
Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has come under fire at ICAC for failing to investigate how a company he chaired, the Obeid-linked Australian Water Holdings, was billing exorbitant costs to the state utility Sydney Water.
Giving evidence at the commission on Thursday morning, the stood-aside Federal Assistant Treasurer said he was unaware the company paid almost $75,000 in donations to the Liberal Party.
"You deny knowing the company of which you were [then] deputy chairman was donating to the party of which you were the treasurer?" counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said.
"Yes," Senator Sinodinos replied.
The commission is investigating claims the family of corrupt former Labor minister Eddie Obeid owned a 30 per cent stake in Australian Water and stood to make up to $60 million from a partnership with the state government.
The 57-year-old senator frequently fell back onto the phrase "I don't recall" when giving his evidence.
Dressed in a navy pin-striped suit, with his Order Of Australia medal pinned to his chest, Senator Sinodinos nervously chugged his way through several litres of water during his almost three hours in the witness box. He is yet to finish his evidence.
Senator Sinodinos also claimed to be unaware that as of September 2011, the company was in such dire financial straits that it had to go to the family of Mr Obeid for a $400,000 cash injection in order to keep the Australian Tax Office at bay. Senator Sinodinos claimed that, at the time, he was "transitioning" to the Senate. However, he agreed with Mr Watson that he was still a director and therefore owed the company and its shareholders a duty of care.
On several occasions Mr Sinodinos's barrister, Tony Bannon, SC, stated that the current proceedings were not an "insolvency" examination nor was it an inquiry into director's duties.
Senator Sinodinos said he could not recollect the then chief executive of Sydney Water, Kerry Schott, warning him in 2010 that he could be keeping "dishonest" company on the board of Australian Water.
"I don't remember her using the word dishonest," Senator Sinodinos said.
"That's a pretty heavy word to use about people."
The inquiry has heard the company paid $183,000 to a slush fund linked to former NSW Liberal energy minister Chris Hartcher in exchange for favourable treatment by Mr Hartcher.
Senator Sinodinos said he was unaware of the payments.
The former Liberal Party president came under pressure when asked about his workload at Australian Water, where he was paid $200,000 plus bonuses.
"It seems to be that in a year you might be spending between 26 hours and 45 hours a year on Australian Water Holdings’ work, isn't that right?" Mr Watson asked.
"Does that include travel time? There was an opportunity cost to that time," Senator Sinodinos replied.
He also faced heated questioning about an agreement for him to take 5 per cent of the shares in Australian Water.
He said the deal "never proceeded" but was shown a letter from his lawyers in February 2013 in which they said he had relinquished his right to the shares.
"I wanted to distance myself from the company. That is the basis of this letter being written," Senator Sinodinos said.
The inquiry continues.
Our live coverage will resume at 2pm
Watson is ratcheting up the pressure on Sinodinos.
The Liberal Senator says that a deal for him to take 5 per cent of the shares in Australian Water "never proceeded, it never eventuated".
He said he "mischaracterised" an arrangement when he told the Sydney Morning Herald he had a "gentlemen's agreement" with Australian Water chief executive Nick Di Girolamo for him to hold shares for Sinodinos.
He claimed he was "on the run, under pressure from a journalist".
Asked if he would "stake [his] credibility" on his evidence, Sinodinos says: "Yes."
He is shown a February 2013 letter in which his lawyers write to Australian Water that Sinodinos "relinquishes his rights to a 5% shareholding in AWH, which he is entitled to".
"I wanted to distance myself from the company. That is the basis of this letter being written," Sinodinos tells the inquiry.
The inquiry adjourns for lunch.
Counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, goes in for the kill. He suggests to Sinodinos that his judgement was "blurred" because he stood to make a substantial personal benefit from his position at Australian Water.
Sinodinos denies it.Back to top