ICAC plays secret phone calls during Obeid investigation


ICAC plays secret phone calls during Obeid investigation

Amy Dale and Vanda Carson
The Daily Telegraph
January 30, 201312:25PM

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Witness John McGuigan yesterday. Picture: Nic Gibson Source: The Daily Telegraph

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SECRETLY recorded calls between the major players in a mining company reveal they believed “the shortest distance to the dough” was a proposed $500 million takeover to be made after the Obeid family were bought out.

ICAC has this morning played a series of phone intercepts from a late night call between Greg Jones, a close friend of former resources minister Ian Macdonald, and millionaire mining investor John McGuigan, its current witness.

In the March 2011 call, which Mr McGuigan told the commission was made after he’d had “a few glasses of wine” reveal their frustration at the stalling of a proposed $500 million takeover of Cascade Coal by White Energy.

The corruption watchdog is investigating claims Mr Macdonald rorted the reopening of a coal mining exploration licence process, to the lucrative financial benefit of the Obeid family.

The inquiry has been told Cascade Coal directors wanted to get the Obeids out of their 25 per cent venture because of the poor association the family’s name carried in business.

Mr McGuigan said there was “shall we say, an aroma” around the Obeid family involvement.

White Energy independent director Graham Cubbin raised concerns about who was involved with Cascade as the deal was close to done- a curiosity that was met with annoyance by Mr Jones and Mr McGuigan, ICAC has heard.

Mr Cubbin told ICAC in his evidence last year that he had been assured the Obeid family was not involved with Cascade and that the deal would have been scrapped immediately if White Energy had known the truth.

The phone intercepts reveal Mr McGuigan describe the proposed takeover as “the shortest distance to the dough”, with both he and Mr Jones expressing frustration at delays by Mr Cubbin and other Cascade Coal directors.

Mr McGuigan said today there had been a need to “eliminate” the Obeids, which ultimately collapsed just after Labor’s defeat at the 2011 state election.

The inquiry continues.

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