ICAC 'is all Hollywood style' says Obeid
Former politician Eddie Obeid could face criminal charges after being found guilty of corruption by ICAC on Thursday but didn't seem too concerned in a radio interview, calling it a farce.PT3M46S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-39l7x 620 349 June 5, 2014
Former Labor kingpin Eddie Obeid has had three more corrupt conduct findings handed down against him, and his one-time close associate, the former ports minister Joe Tripodi, has also been found corrupt.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider charging Mr Obeid with the criminal offence of misconduct in public office for corruptly lobbying colleagues to favour his family's secret business interests.
Eddie Obeid, found to have acted corruptly in lobbying colleagues for favourable outcomes for his Circular Quay cafes. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
The commission also found Mr Tripodi acted corruptly by "deliberately failing to disclose" to his cabinet colleagues that the Obeids owned lucrative cafe leases at Circular Quay, which he renewed without a tender in 2009.
"Mr Tripodi’s failure to disclose to Cabinet the circumstance of the Obeid family’s financial interests at Circular Quay must be seen as an act of wilful and deliberate concealment on his part," the commission said in its report.
The hearings were presided over by Assistant Commissioner Anthony Whealy, QC.
Eddie Obeid Photo: Rocco Fazzari
Under rules introduced last year, Mr Tripodi has automatically been expelled from the Labor Party because of the corruption finding. The expulsion will be formalised on Friday.
However, the former ports minister is not expected to face criminal charges because the ICAC found there was "insufficient admissible evidence".
Mr Obeid's son Paul escaped a corruption finding because the commission was not satisfied he knew his father was concealing the family's interest in another business, Direct Health Solutions, when he was lobbying the then treasurer Michael Costa.
But Mr Obeid's friend, former NSW Maritime chief executive, Steve Dunn, was found to have acted corruptly by making decisions to benefit the Obeids.
A defiant Mr Obeid said on Thursday there was only a “one per cent” chance of any criminal charges eventuating. He claimed that ICAC had no real evidence and ICAC hearings were just a “media spectacle”.
''I've had a political witch hunt against myself and my family for the last three years," he told ABC radio. "This is the eighth inquiry...As far as I am concerned unless the DPP take up any one of these inquiries with allegations we are not in a position to be able to defend ourselves and when it does turn up, if it ever does turn up, in a court of law we will defend it vigorously because we are innocent of any of the allegations that ICAC brings up.''
The latest three reports from ICAC’s Operations Meeka, Cabot and Cyrus were tabled in NSW Parliament on Thursday morning.
The commission found that Mr Obeid, who left parliament in mid 2011, engaged in corrupt conduct by misusing his position as an MP to enrich his family by lobbying his parliamentary colleagues, including former ports ministers Michael Costa, Eric Roozendaal and Carl Scully as well as senior bureaucrats.
Mr Obeid did not disclose that his family had secret interests in the leases at three cafes at Circular Quay at the time he was trying to gain benefits for the leaseholders.
The commission also recommended the DPP consider prosecuting Eddie Obeid for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office in relation to his lobbying of senior bureaucrats to gain advantages over water licences at his family property Cherrydale Park, near Bylong, as well as lobbying then finance minister Michael 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.
Both men escaped a corruption finding in relation to the licences. 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 son Moses have received previous corrupt conduct findings against them over their involvement with former mining minister Ian Macdonald in a crooked coal deal which landed the Obeid family a $30 million windfall with the promise of up to another $100 million.
Mr Obeid will have to wait until the end of the year to see if further corruption findings will be made against him in relation to Australian Water Holdings.
The latest inquiry was prompted by a Walkley award-winning investigation in 2012 by Linton Besser and Kate McClymont. The pair revealed that his family secretly owned three prime harbourside cafes and that Mr Obeid used his influence as MP to gain advantages for his family.