Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald acted corruptly, ICAC finds - Sydney Morning Herald

11:58am: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has moved to distance federal Labor from a damning ICAC report that found two former NSW Labor ministers have engaged in corrupt conduct.

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Kevin Rudd 'disgusted' at ICAC evidence

The Prime Minister makes his feelings plain about former state Labor MPs Ian MacDonald and Eddie Obeid after ICAC recommended prosecuting them for corruption.

11:56am: Moses Obeid did not feature much better in the credibility stakes, Kate McClymont reports.

Here's what the report said of him:

"Moses Obeid was an unreliable witness, willing to lie or mislead whenever it suited his purpose. There are numerous instances where he deliberately lied at the public inquiry. The details of these matters are set out throughout this report. They include the evidence that he gave in respect of his contacts with Mr Macdonald, his receipt of the list of mining companies from Mr Macdonald, his contacts with Mr Brook, and his contacts with the investors in Cascade. His account, given in conjunction with his father (Edward Obeid Sr), regarding how he came to know of coal in the area of Cherrydale, was demonstrated to be a fabrication."

11:54am: Commissioner Ipp on Eddie Obeid's credibility:

"Edward Obeid Sr was an unimpressive witness. The Commission would be hesitant in accepting his evidence on any contentious issue. He gave evidence on some important issues which, for reasons explained below, the Commission regarded as deliberately untrue. The Commission regarded his repeated attempts to distance himself from the Obeid family businesses as deliberately false, and merely an attempt to construct a defensive position between him and some of the issues that lie at the heart of this inquiry. He was an aggressive witness and seemed to be more concerned with imposing his will on the proceedings than with simply telling the truth. From time to time, this aggression manifested itself in a determination to make speeches arguing his case, irrespective of the question. It was plain that, if he felt that an honest answer could damage his position, he simply evaded providing an answer."

11:53am: ICAC finds that Ian Macdonald's excuse for why he was in the Four Seasons hotel room with prostitute Tiffanie - that he had "neck tiredness" and was expecting a remedial massage - was "inherently incredible".

11:51am: Eddie Obeid's statement continues:

''I reject the assertions by the Commissioner that I acted in any way that could amount to corrupt conduct. It will be necessary for me to consult my legal representatives before any detailed response is to be published, but I wish to make it clear that I reserve my right to seek judicial review in respect of the adverse findings.''

11:42am: The "Tiffanie" report says Tuscany owner Frank Moio said former Mining Minister Ian Macdonald attended his restaurants "on a weekly basis".

Mr Frank Moio leaves an ICAC hearing in December, 2011.

Mr Frank Moio leaves an ICAC hearing in December, 2011. Photo: edwina pickles

11:39am: The statement from Eddie Obeid, distributed by law firm Breene & Breene solicitors, says:

"I regret to have to say that it was as I anticipated - given the animosity of both counsel assisting and the Commissioner during the hearing phases."

He has accused ICAC of showing "superficiality and bias".

11:38am:Eddie Obeid has released a statement saying that he rejects the findings and will consult his legal team.

11:36am: There have been plenty of great quotes to remember from ICAC:

"His nickname was that he was 'Obeid's left testicle'." -NSW Labor MP Luke Foley on Ian Macdonald.

"I was given a higher title... Sir Lunchalot." - Ian Macdonald responding to his barrister when asked if he had been upset at being called Mr Lunchalot.

Travers Duncan

Travers Duncan Photo: Mick Tsikas

11:32am: Some of the "Magnificent Seven" from Cascade Coal have also fared badly in the report.

Not only has Comissioner Ipp recommended Travers Duncan, Richard Poole, John Atkinson and John McGuigan be referred to the DPP for criminal charges over possible breaches of the Corporations Act, he also suggested that they attempted to misleads the ASX.

"There was evidence before the Commission of attempts by some directors of White Energy to evade a request from ASX for information concerning the calculation of Cascade's capitalised mining costs. There was other evidence that a false announcement was made to ASX concerning the reason for terminating the proposed arrangement between White Energy and Cascade."

11:21am: However ... Although Paul Obeid and his business partners, the brothers Rocco and Rosario Triulcio, did not get slapped with corruption findings, they have been referred to the state's prosecutor for giving false evidence to the anti-corruption commission.

So too has Moses Obeid, who the ICAC said had given four counts of false testimony.

Paul Obeid

Paul Obeid Photo: Tamara Dean

11:21am: Some other members of the Obeid clan have had better luck.

ICAC has found there was insufficient evidence that the other Obeids interviewed about the Honda car deal - Eddie Obeid's father Eddie Snr and Paul Obeid - had acted corruptly. The same goes for their property developer friends and business partners, brothers Rocco and Rosario Triulcio.

11:19am: On the big one - Operation JASPER and the corrupt Cascade Coal licenses - Kate McClymont reports that the Obeid's millions might be at risk with Commissioner Ipp recommending NSW Crime Commission possibly applying to the Supreme Court of NSW for an assets forfeiture order.

He goes on to say that "the Supreme Court of NSW may make such an order where it finds that a person has engaged in serious crime-related activity, even if the person has not been charged or convicted of any criminal offence".

11:17am: On the "Tiffanie" affair, ICAC has referred Ian Macdonald and Ron Medich to the DPP for corruption charges which carry a seven year jail term.

Ron Medich

Ron Medich Photo: Jon Reid

11:15am: The question of what Eric Roozendaal knew or was told about the purchase turns to a large degree on what he was told by Moses Obeid.

The ICAC has found that "Moses Obeid was not a truthful witness, and his evidence could not be relied upon for any purpose, including deciding what he may or may not have told Mr Roozendaal".

11:14am: The ICAC has accepted an argument made by Eric Roozendaal's lawyer that his actions displayed a lack of "judgment or insight".

The former Roads Minister had admitted he had obtained an almost new car at a substantial discount and that "he was allowed to take the car away... without having signed any documents or paid any money because Moses Obeid was a friend of [the car dealer] and had made such arrangements".

The report notes that it was difficult for the Commission to uncover the full truth about Mr Roozendaal's involvement in, and knowledge of, the transactions that led to the purchase of the Honda CR-V on his behalf.

This is because Mr Roozendaal allowed Moses Obeid to play a major role in organising the purchase of the car, and dealt almost exclusively with Moses Obeid in respect of the purchase. 

Eric Roozendaal.

Eric Roozendaal. Photo: Kate Geraghty

11:11am: Not surprisingly, the Twittersphere is loving the first taste of ICAC's findings of corrupt conduct.

11:11am: The findings are so substantial that boxes had to be wheeled into state Parliament on trolleys this morning, reports the Financial Review's Michaela Whitbourn.

11:10am: More from Linton Besser on Operation INDUS (regarding Eric Roozendaal and the cheap Honda):

The ICAC has declared that Moses Obeid acted corruptly by providing a $10,800 discount for Eric Roozendaal, the former NSW treasurer and Labor party boss, on a Honda CRV.

The ICAC said this was an "inducement for Mr Roozendaal to show favour to Obeid business interests in the exercise of his official functions".

But the Commission said there was "insufficient evidence" to show Mr Roozendaal knew of the complex arrangements that led to him benefiting from this discount.

11:07am: The ICAC's website has crashed yet again.

11:06am: Just to confirm: former NSW Mining Minister Ian Macdonald, former minister Eddie Obeid and his son Moses Obeid have engaged in corrupt conduct, ICAC has found.

However, former Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal did not engage in corrupt conduct, the commission has found.

11:04am: The NSW Legislative Council says the reports will be made public on ICAC's website shortly. Some entertaining lunch-time reading for you all.

"I felt very reluctant to be kissed by him" ... "Tiffanie", a 38-year-old escort, gave evidence at the ICAC corruption inquiry.

"I felt very reluctant to be kissed by him" ... "Tiffanie", a 38-year-old escort, gave evidence at the ICAC corruption inquiry. Photo: Wolter Peeters

11:03am: During an investigation in 2011, the commission heard that Mr Macdonald arranged a lunch meeting at the Tuscany restaurant in Leichhardt between Mr Medich and Country Energy executives Craig Murray and Bill Frewen on July 15, 2009.

Mr Medich and his associate, former boxer Lucky Gattellari, used the meeting to complain about the lack of success their firm, Rivercorp, was having securing government contracts.

After lunch, Mr Macdonald was taken by Mr Gattellari's driver, Senad Kaminic, to the five-star Four Seasons hotel in the Rocks where he was handed a room key.

Waiting in the hotel room was a Chinese prostitute, "Tiffanie", who told the commission she understood sex was expected from her.

11:01am: More from Sean Nicholls on Operation JARILO and Ian Macdonald's hotel rendezvous with Tiffanie:

ICAC will ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether criminal charges should be brought against Mr Macdonald for ''an offence of corruptly receiving a benefit'' from Mr Medich and Mr Gattellari and ''misconduct in public office''.

The commission will also seek advice from the DPP about whether to prosecute Medich for ''corruptly giving a benefit to Mr Macdonald as a reward.''

Each offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

10:59am: On Operation INDUS (Eric Roozendaal and the cheap car), former Roads Minister Roozendaal has been found not to be corrupt. Moses Obeid was deemed corrupt for procuring a cheap Honda for the Roozendaal family in return for favours.

10:56am: On Operation JARILO, Sean Nicholls reports that former Mining Minister Ian Macdonald has been found to have engaged in corrupt conduct for accepting the services of a prostitute, Tiffanie, in return for arranging meetings between the businessman Ron Medich and executives from state-run power companies.

10:53am: FIRST FINDINGS ARE IN: ICAC has found that Ian Macdonald, Eddie Obeid and Moses Obeid engaged in corrupt conduct and should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

10:51am: The findings are so substantial that boxes had to be wheeled into state parliament on trolleys this morning, reports the Financial Review's Michaela Whitbourn.

10:49am: Kate McClymont reports that ICAC's website has already crashed just minutes after the three reports went up online.

10:46am: And we're off. The ABC's state political reporter says the reports have officially been tabled.

10:45am:Home Affairs Minister and western Sydney MP Jason Clare also didn't mince his words on Sky News this morning.

"Throw the book at them, prosecute to the full extent of the law," he said.

He said the Labor party needs to reform itself to make sure ICAC investigations like this one never happen again.

10:38am: Questions loom over what kind of ramifications the findings will have for the Labor party, whose reputation has been severely dented by the explosive corruption allegations.

Already this morning, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said he's been "disgusted by what has been revealed in the ICAC hearings," Channel 10 reporter Georgi Glover has Tweeted.

10:35am: What might we expect from the three reports this morning?

Kate McClymont reported yesterday that the three key figures - Ian Macdonald, Eddie Obeid and Moses Obeid - are likely to have criminal charges recommended against them for conspiracy to defraud.

Moses Obeid leaves the Latteria coffee shop in Darlinghurst through a back entrance.

Moses Obeid leaves the Latteria coffee shop in Darlinghurst through a back entrance. Photo: Anne Davies

10:31am: The Herald's team has already spotted Moses Obeid this morning escaping the Latteria coffee shop in Darlinghurst through a back entrance into a waiting Range Rover.

10:24am: There have been some key moments over several months of hearings:

Ian Macdonald was forced on one occasion to deny he was a "crook".

Mr Obeid retorted on another that he had "spent more money than (counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson had) made in a lifetime".

And the proceedings proved so sensational that members of the public began queuing outside the seventh-floor ICAC hearing room, deck chairs in hand. "Try and control yourselves at the back; at least refrain from clapping,'' Commissioner David Ipp warned the boisterous public gallery in one instance.

Ian Macdonald

Ian Macdonald Photo: Rob Homer

SMH front page, November 13

SMH front page, November 13

10:21am: The inquiry first hit the front pages in November with counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson saying in his opening address that the allegations, if proven, would constitute "corruption on a scale probably unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps".

That quote will go down as one of the best, no matter what the outcome this morning.

10:14am: Here's is a good backgrounder from Kate McClymont looking back at the sensational inquiry into government corruption.

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

ICAC report looms

Senior reporter Kate McClymont looks back at the inquiry into alleged NSW government corruption by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

10:13am: How will it work this morning? Three reports will be tabled in state parliament and posted online on ICAC's website. There will be no official proceedings and none of the key players involved in the inquiries are required to be anywhere.

10:09am: Linton Besser will be going through the report into Operation INDUS.

This investigation looked at allegations that former Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal received a $10,400 discount on a Honda from Eddie Obeid's family in return for favours.

Roozendaal's wife wrote off the family Honda and the search for a replacement, of course, led to Eddie Obeid, who passed the matter to his son Moses who was able to find a $44,800 Honda which would cost the Roozendaals just $34,000.

10:07am: Sean Nicholls will be going through the findings from Operation JARILO.

This inquiry looked into allegations that businessman Ron Medich (who, incidentally, has been charged with the murder of Cremorne businessman Michael McGurk) offered former NSW Mining Minister Ian Macdonald inducements - including the services of a prostitute called Tiffanie - to arrange meetings with state energy executives.

After a lunch at Tuscany's with Mr Medich and Craig Murray, the head of state power company Mr Macdonald met with Tiffanie in a Sydney hotel room but says he fell asleep after little more than a "neck massage".

10:04am: There are three separate reports to be tabled in state parliament at 10.30am and we have three reporters on the case.

Kate McClymont will be sifting through the big one: Operation JASPER.

This deals with allegations former NSW Mining Minister Ian Macdonald rigged a 2008 coal tender process to benefit former NSW minister Eddie Obeid and his family to the tune of around $30-$70 million dollars.

The Obeids and his acquaintances bought property in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee just before Mr Macdonald agreed to open a mining area in the Valley for coal exploration, which greatly increased the value of the Obeid holdings.

10:04am: Welcome to our live blog on the Independent Commission Against Corruption's findings into the state's most sensational corruption inquiry in history.

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