Thirty-six links in the chain will wipe the smirk off Ian Macdonald’s face
Amy Dale and Vanda Carson
The Daily Telegraph
February 12, 201312:00AM
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Obeid mine licence just luck -…
Obeid mine licence just luck – Macdonald
Ian Macdonald denies granting a coal exploration licence in order to financially benefit the Obeid family.
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Disgraced … Ian Macdonald arrives at ICAC / Pic: Cameron Richardson Source: The Daily Telegraph
IAN Macdonald was yesterday branded a “liar” over his attempts to explain away the “wicked chances” which saw the family of Eddie Obeid rake in millions from an allegedly corrupt coal deal.
As the former mining minister was grilled about how former Labor powerbroker Mr Obeid and his family made as much as $100 million from a coal mining venture under his watch, he was hit with the uncomfortable news that the fiercest of the interrogation was still to come.
Today is set to be ICAC’s most important day – with 36 links to be revealed which the corruption watchdog alleges add up to the highest-level corruption in NSW for 200 years.
The parting words of counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC as Mr Macdonald stepped down from the witness box after an hour in the hot seat were that he had touched on only four of 40 coincidences supporting the accusation the former minister rigged the tender process on a coal mining exploration licence for the lucrative benefit of “his friends the Obeids”.
A few words in mate’s ear»
IAN Macdonald’s former chief of staff was paid $740,000 by miners to lobby his close friend and admitted yesterday he might have urged his former boss to reopen the tender process on behalf of mining company White Energy.
Smile could well become a grimace»
HE entered and left with the grin of a Cheshire Cat. But after years to prepare himself for his answer to the reason he put a mining tenement on former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid’s farm, the best Ian Macdonald could offer was that he spotted the coal tenement on an atlas in his office – an atlas which he no longer had.
Macdonald denies lying about Obeid land»
DISGRACED former minister Ian Macdonald has denied he created a coal mining tenement in the Bylong Valley of NSW to benefit the Obeid family.
The inquiry heard that those four coincidences were: The request from Mr Macdonald for information about coal reserves a day after a May 2008 conversation with Mr Obeid, the creation of the Mt Penny tenement “smack bang” on top of the family’s property, emails about the little-known area where the tenement is and that secret maps of the site fell into Obeid hands.
Two months after the inquiry began with an explosive opening address comparing the actions of Mr Macdonald and Mr Obeid to the Rum Corps, at 2.57pm yesterday Ian Michael Macdonald confirmed his name and gave an affirmation to tell the truth.
His evidence had been anticipated all day by the scores of court watchers who lined up from 8am to get a seat inside ICAC’s hearing room, but he was preceded by the last of Eddie Obeid’s sons Eddie Jr, his former chief-of-staff Tony Hewson and accountant Bill Sweeney in the stand.Within moments Mr Macdonald and Mr Watson were sparring over maps of the Mt Penny tenement. The inquiry was told the tenement, created by Mr Macdonald in June, 2008, fell “smack bang on top of the Obeid family farm”.
“How did it come about that this tenement was created over the Obeid family farm while you were the mining minister? Is that a coincidence?” Mr Watson asked.
Mr Macdonald replied: “I did not know about the Obeids having the farm in the new area. I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence or not.”
The inquiry has heard evidence from two of the state’s most senior geologists, who both said they had never heard of Mt Penny before the ICAC inquiry, but Mr Macdonald said he was directed to the area by a now misplaced atlas he kept in his office.
“I’ll be blunt. I’m suggesting you’re a liar and you’re making this up,” Mr Watson said, to which Mr Macdonald replied: “That’s not right.”
But he echoed the evidence of Mr Obeid and his five sons in being unable to explain how confidential maps of the area were found at the family’s office during a raid by ICAC investigators in 2011.
“You’re calling for reserves in the Mt Penny area of the Bylong Valley and this map goes in the possession of the Obeids,” Mr Watson asked Mr Macdonald.
“Are you just saying that is some sort of wicked chance?”
“It’s got nothing to do with me, I didn’t give it to him,” Mr Macdonald said.