Even Eddie Obeid, the crooked former MP dubbed “The Teflon Don”, can’t win them all.
The ex-powerbroker has been ordered to hand over his passport as part of fresh bail conditions because of the virtual impossibility of extraditing people from Lebanon.
Crown prosecutor Daniel Noll told the court on Thursday there were concerns the 71-year-old would fail to appear at future court dates and that he had a large personal fortune and dual citizenship in Lebanon, where he is renovating an inherited property.
“If the accused is allowed to travel to Lebanon … it may be that his health is such … that he might not be able to return to Australia, and if he is in Lebanon, extradition will not be possible,” Mr Noll said.
Justice David Davies agreed but denied Mr Noll’s request to prohibit contact between Obeid and the 30-odd crown witnesses, only ordering the fallen powerbroker to stay away from ex-Maritime NSW boss Steve Dunn.
Obeid, who is fighting misconduct charges, is accused of making inducements to Mr Dunn in return for extensions on leases for lucrative family-owned businesses in Sydney’s Circular Quay in 2007.
After hearing he had to surrender his passport, Obeid told reporters it “didn’t matter”.
“The judge has made his decision. I’m here to fight,” he said outside court.
“This is only the first round.”
The witness list in Obeid’s case includes his brother-in-law John Abood and former political colleagues Joe Tripodi, Eric Roozendaal and Michael Costa.
Obeid’s lawyer John Stratton SC earlier asked the court to dispense with bail altogether, saying no unacceptable risks had been identified.
He said Obeid, who doesn’t have a criminal record, had significant economic and family links with nine children, 33 grandchildren and a wife of 50 years in Australia.
“He has almost the strongest imaginable community ties there is to the country,” he said.
Under his bail conditions, Obeid can apply to the Supreme Court to release his passport so he can travel.
Obeid’s matter is listed for mention at a Sydney court on February 19.