News State NSW News Fresh ICAC hearing into Eddie Obeid kicks off

Fresh ICAC hearing into Eddie Obeid kicks off

The public gallery at the ICAC has again filled out for the beginning of a fresh inquiry into former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid. Over the next three weeks the commission will examine how the leases of three prime properties in Sydney's Circular Quay area were sold to the Obeids in 2003. The ICAC will also examine Mr Obeid's efforts to lobby his colleagues for reduced rent and improved conditions for all properties in the area – including those in which his family had a hidden interest. Mr Obeid remains defiant over previous corruption findings by the commission and says nothing will come of the new inquiry.
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The New South Wales corruption watchdog has begun another public inquiry into former state Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption found Mr Obeid corrupt earlier this year in relation to a mine licence in the Bylong Valley, but he describe that inquiry as being “full of superficiality and bias”.

Despite being referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the NSW Crime Commission and the Australian Tax Office, Mr Obeid maintains he has done nothing wrong and is the victim of a “political witch hunt”.

A new inquiry starting today will investigate allegations that between 2000 and 2011 Mr Obeid misused his position as an MP to influence the issue of cafe leases at Circular Quay and failed to disclose a family interest in the leases.

Three leases were sold to an Obeid front company in 2003 , but the deal was not exposed until 2012.

The ABC revealed yesterday that despite this, the lease on the third cafe was renewed in late 2012 by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

When Mr Obeid was briefly asked about his lobbying over retail leases in the CBD at a previous inquiry he defended it and said he was lobbying for all lease holders.

After the cafe licence inquiry the ICAC will look at allegations Mr Obeid tried to influence decisions favouring the company Direct Health Solutions and influence the issue of water licences on his farm Cherrydale Park.

Retired judge Anthony Whealy is presiding over the inquiry and the former head of the ICAC Ian Tembey is counsel assisting, along with Ben Katecar.

Joe Tripodi, who had a number of NSW Labor portfolios between 2005 and 2008, is on the witness list along with Mr Obeid’s son Damian and brother-in-law John Abood.

Mr Abood is expected to be the first witness today

Eddie Obeid, who recently turned 70, has stated that nothing will come of the new inquiry.

The last inquiry saw two public galleries full, but today the ICAC is only opening one.