Dodgy ALP Ratbag cops one in the chook again

Eddie Obeid is the ratbag that just keeps on giving.

He is back before the Independent Commission against Corruption with three more investigations.

Former Labor parliamentarian Eddie Obeid and two former departmental chiefs will be adversely named during the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s three-pronged inquiry which began today.

In his opening address, counsel assisting, Ian Temby, QC, outlined the details of the corruption watchdog’s trio of fresh inquiries into Mr Obeid’s dealings.

Mr Temby said the inquiries spanned three departments – Treasury, the Department of Water and Energy, and NSW Maritime – four separate ministers, and a period of more than a decade.

Mr Temby, formerly the inaugural head of the ICAC, said the hearings involved “lobbying of an unusual kind” by an MP, in circumstances where his family’s interests were involved.

“It will be established that in some instances the fact that such family interests were being promoted was kept from those to whom representations were made,” he said.

Operation Cyrus, the first of the three inquiries, will investigate the circumstances in which two lucrative retail leases at Circular Quay were given to a company controlled by the Obeid family without a tender.

In October 2003 the company paid $2.4 million for the leases and businesses on them, the Sorrentino restaurant and Quay Eatery, along with the nearby Arc Cafe.

The inquiry heard Mr Obeid had lobbied a succession of NSW Labor waterways ministers, Carl Scully, Michael Costa, Eric Roozendaal and Joe Tripodi, without revealing his interest in the leases.

A NSW government plan to put the leases up for competitive tender was postponed by Mr Costa on August 1, 2005, days after then premier Bob Carr announced his intention to resign.

Two years later, when Mr Tripodi was waterways minister, the government’s commercial lease policy was changed to allow negotiation with existing tenants.

In January 2009, the Obeid-controlled company was given new five-year leases for the restaurant and cafe with an option to renew for five years. This occurred in the absence of any tender process.

“By that time the Obeid family had engaged business brokers to sell the businesses on the basis they had such extended lease entitlements,” Mr Temby said.

There are two other operations outlining the corrupt behaviour of officials and ratbags like Eddie Obeid.

Operation Meeka will investigate the former NSW Labor government’s dealings with Direct Health Solutions, a company wholly owned by an Obeid family company when it wrote to Mr Costa in August 23, 2005, seeking a meeting to promote its “unique [employee] absence management system”.

“The letter was handed to Mr Costa by Mr Obeid, and the meeting sought took place,” Mr Temby said.

Mr Costa is expected to tell the ICAC he was unaware of the Obeids’ interest in the company.

The inquiry heard a company controlled by an Obeid family associate, Rocco Triulcio, later took 55 per cent of the shares in Direct Health and the rest were sold to the company’s principal, Paul Dundon, and a business associate.

Mr Triulcio and and the Obeid family invested $450,000 in the company.

Operation Cabot, the last of the three inquiries, is investigating whether Mr Obeid lobbied bureaucrats in 2007 about lucrative water licences over his family’s rural property, Cherrydale Park.

The ICAC heard the man who sold the Obeids the property, former Packer adviser John Cherry, had given evidence in private that Mr Obeid had told him he had spoken to a friend who was the head of the Department of Water and Energy.

He claims Mr Obeid told the friend “just to look into it. I thought I could establish something now while I still had influence, water is going to get more difficult in the future.” Mr Temby said the water licence system was “far from impregnable to abuse as procedures were notably lax”.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.