Wealthy group’s email war on ICAC
Date March 18, 2013 95 reading now
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Friendship with Ian Macdonald kept hidden: Greg Jones. Photo: Ben Rushton
One of a group of wealthy businessmen has widely circulated emails accusing the Independent Commission Against Corruption of making ”unsubstantiated and outrageous allegations” against the group.
The email by Greg Jones, a close friend of former mining minister Ian Macdonald, comes on top of legal action by Mr Jones’ business partner, mining tycoon Travers Duncan, to try to stop ICAC handing its findings to Parliament.
Corrupt findings by Commissioner David Ipp could prevent Cascade Coal receiving approval to develop a potential billion-dollar mine at Mount Penny, near Mudgee.
The commission has heard Cascade was the private company set up by Brian Flannery, Mr Duncan, former Baker & McKenzie partners John McGuigan and John Atkinson, banker Richard Poole and former RAMS Home Loans founder John ”Kingy” Kinghorn.
The seventh member of the consortium was Mr Jones, who kept his shareholding hidden because his friendship with then resources minister Ian Macdonald, who was presiding over the tender, might have been politically explosive.
”Dear friends and business associates,” wrote Mr Jones in an email dated March 16, saying that since ICAC had finished, ”Cascade Coal is now free to respond to the defamatory, incorrect, unsubstantiated and outrageous allegations made (under privilege) by the ICAC prosecutor, most of which has been reported as fact on the ABC and in the Fairfax press.”
Mr Jones attached to his email a five-page Cascade Coal letter sent to every NSW MP on Friday. The letter claimed that none of the Cascade investors was involved in ”corrupt activity of any kind” and it was
in ”the best interests of the state” to allow Cascade to develop the mine.
Geoffrey Watson, SC, counsel assisting the commission, said on Sunday: ”I am not concerned what Greg Jones says about me. The evidence, including his evidence, speaks for itself.”
The Cascade letter, which has been sent to all MPs and Mr Jones’ associates, was signed by Mr Kinghorn and Mr McGuigan. It omits any damaging evidence about them which has been presented to the commission.
Their letter states ”The uncontested evidence is that the Obeids deliberately misled and deceived Cascade Coal with respect to their underlying interests.”
But in his evidence Mr McGuigan admitted knowing he was dealing with the family of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid when he negotiated with his son Moses and his adviser for the Obeids to have a 25 per cent stake in Cascade, before it won the Mount Penny tender.
The inquiry heard the Obeids and their associates bought land in the Bylong Valley before Mr Macdonald announced the area would be open to coal exploration. Access to the properties was then used to extract a deal with Cascade. The Obeids were later paid $30 million, with the promise of $30 million more, to exit Cascade before its $500 million sale to public mining company White Energy. Five Cascade investors, including Mr McGuigan, Mr Duncan and Mr Kinghorn, were also on the board of White Energy.
The Cascade investors, including Mr Jones, each stood to make $60 million if the sale went ahead. The deal collapsed when White Energy’s independent directors started asking whether the Obeids were involved. The inquiry has heard Mr McGuigan, Mr Duncan and others might have breached their director’s duty by failing to reveal their knowledge of the Obeids’ involvement to White Energy or the stock exchange.
Cascade’s recent letter did not mention that because the Obeids did not receive their second $30 million, they still own about 9 per cent of Cascade.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/wealthy-groups-email-war-on-icac-20130317-2g8zg.html#ixzz2NqD1xevg