‘Under oath’ Obeid denies coal mine conspiracy
By court reporter Jamelle Wells, ABCUpdated February 4, 2013, 12:47 pm
Former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has told a corruption inquiry he was not involved in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the people of New South Wales.
Mr Obeid is being questioned about allegations he had inside knowledge of mining tenders and colluded with his Labor colleague, the former mining minister Ian Macdonald.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry has so far heard allegations the Obeids and their associates stood to profit $100 million from the deals.
On his way to the ICAC today, Mr Obeid told one reporter he is under oath and will tell the truth.
Counsel-assisting the commission Geoffrey Watson put the allegations to the former minister.
“It’s my intention to submit to the Commissioner that you, you Mr Obeid, engaged in a criminal conspiracy,” he said.
“You engaged in that with Ian Macdonald, and with members of your family. And the design was to effect a fraud on the people of New South Wales.”
Mr Obeid replied: “That’s incorrect.”
When asked by the counsel-assisting if he thought it was “appropriate for a government minister to put a tenement over a friend’s property”, Mr Obeid replied “No.”
He said it is “wrong and inappropriate”.
After laughter erupted in the public gallery when Mr Obeid was questioned about ethics and responsibility, the Commissioner David Ipp warned people to stop laughing.
“This is not a theatre,” he said.
In a heated exchange, Mr Obeid was also told to stop smiling in the witness box. He replied that he had been insulted.
The Commissioner also reminded the former minister who was in charge.
Commissioner Ipp later snapped, “pleaseÂ answer the question, notÂ some other question”.
Mr Obeid’s barrister Stuart Littlemore was also chastised for speaking out of line.
The hearing continues.