An investor in a company at the centre of a NSW corruption inquiry met with Arthur Sinodinos to express concerns over the firm’s debts and remind him of his duties as a director.
Before entering federal parliament, Senator Sinodinos was employed at infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings (AWH) as director and its deputy chairman, while working as a senior banker.
Senator Sinodinos has stepped aside as federal assistant treasurer while the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigates the dealings of AWH.
In 2010, investor Rod De Aboitiz, who attended school with disgraced former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid’s son Eddie junior, went to see Senator Sinodinos.
Mr De Aboitiz was concerned about AWH’s books, which he hadn’t seen despite requesting copies several times.
Former NSW Liberal fundraiser Nick Di Girolamo had in April that year asked Mr De Aboitiz for a $250,000 personal loan, around the time Sydney water was in a dispute with AWH over $2 million in unpaid receivables.
“It was put to me that this was a cash flow or timing issue,” said Mr De Aboitiz, who invested $1 million in AWH through a family trust.
“It was also put to me that this was because Sydney Water was trying to commercially starve the business.”
After seeking information on AWH’s position and being shown some “extreme” expenses totalling $4 million, Mr De Aboitiz sought clarification from Mr Di Girolamo.
Mr De Aboitiz in May decided to see Senator Sinodinos following days of trying to contact Mr Di Girolamo through email and text.
“(I said) Arthur you know that solvency’s a big issue for a director. You’re a director. You’re an experienced person,” he told the ICAC.
“Surely you’re in control of your own cash flow.”
Senator Sinodinos replied “that the board was on top of it and that it was taken care of,” the ICAC heard.
“Were you comforted by that assurance?” counsel assisting the commission Greg O’Mahoney asked.
“It’s Arthur Sinodinos. Of course I was comforted,” Mr De Aboitiz replied.
The senator, who was the NSW Liberal Party’s finance director at the time, maintains he’s done nothing wrong.
The inquiry heard this week that Senator Sinodinos was paid $200,000 a year for about 100 hours of work and that he was hired predominantly for his Liberal connections.
The inquiry continues.