icac finds eddie obeid, joe tripodi

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    Couldn't have happened to nicer blokes.

    FORMER NSW Labor powerbrokers Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi has been found to be corrupt over the nondisclosure of the ownership of cafes at Circular Quay and attempts to renew the leases without a tender.

    The Independent Commission Against Corruption found that Mr Obeid misused his position as a member of parliament to lobby ministers and public servants on several occasions over the leases for the cafes, which he and his family secretly owned. It recommended that the Director of Public Prosecutions consider charges of misconduct in public office against him.

    Mr. Tripodi was found to be corrupt for not disclosing to his cabinet colleagues his knowledge of Mr Obeid ownership of the leases, knowing that Cabinet’s endorsement of changes to commercial lease policy would benefit Mr Obeid. No criminal charges were recommended against him.

    The change of government policy allowed lease holders to avoid a public tender process and negotiate directly with the Maritime Authority of NSW.

    Steve Dunn, the former deputy CEO of the Maritime Authority was also found to be corrupt, by using his position to benefit Mr Obeid and his family by bring about a change to the commercial lease policy. ICAC heard that Mr Dunn was a long-time associate of Mr Obeid, having worked for him years before when Mr Obeid was a minister.

    Mr Obeid has consistently denied any corruption and told the ICAC that it was purely coincidental that his family benefited from his advocacy for lease holders at Circular Quay. The inquiry heard from one of his employees that both he and his wife received wads of cash each week from the restaurants, which Mr Obeid denied.

    Four former ministerial colleagues, including former ports ministers Carl Scully and Michael Costa both gave evidence against Mr Obeid, saying he did not disclose his financial interest in the Circular Quay eases when he lobbied them.

    Mr Obeid was also found corrupt for lobbying the former treasurer Michael Costa to use a company, Direct Health Solutions, in which his family had a secret financial interest.

    He was also found corrupt for influencing the actions of two senior public servants over the water allocation for his family farm in the Bylong Valley in NSW. The farm had a water allocation vastly larger than any other property in the valley.

    ICAC also recommended the DPP consider charges of misconduct in public office over these actions as well.

    Mr Obeid was found to be corrupt last year over the allocation of a coal licence over his family farm, which resulted in a $30 million windfall in his family. He is yet to face any criminal charges.

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