Obeid 'can't explain' coal maps PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 February 2013 13:28

The son of former NSW Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has been unable to explain how confidential government maps relating to land which made the Obeid family tens of millions of dollars came to be in their possession.

The maps, seized in raids on the family's business premises, were shown to Moses Obeid as he gave evidence on Friday to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson SC, said the maps, dated in May 2008, were highly confidential, prepared in-house by the Department of Primary Industries, and seen only by a few senior officers and then resources minister Ian Macdonald, who was a friend and former colleague of family patriarch Eddie Obeid.

The maps showed the Mt Penny coal tenement, in the Bylong Valley west of Newcastle, on land which the Obeids eventually bought, which helped reap them a $60 million profit.

ICAC is investigating claims former minister Ian Macdonald rigged a 2008 tender process for coal exploration licences in the Bylong Valley.

It is also investigating whether former minister Eddie Obeid and his family gained substantial financial benefit from this.

Asked how one map, containing pencil markings reflecting the redrawn shape of the Mt Penny tenement, came to be in the Obeid family's possession, Moses Obeid replied, "I cannot explain that."

Mr Watson said the redrawn tenement was "quite different" from the original Mt Penny tenement map, and included land bought by the Obeids at Cherrydale Park, and the adjoining properties Donola and Coggan Creek.

Mr Obeid said the pencil marks might have been made after the tenement boundaries had been redrawn.

Mr Watson suggested they might have been made by Mr Obeid after a conversation with Mr Macdonald.

"They might have been drawn by Jesus Christ," said Mr Obeid.

Moses Obeid agreed on Friday that the family had kept secret from Mr Macdonald the fact that it went on to do a deal with Monaro Coal.

Asked why, he replied, "Politics is a very strange game, Mr Watson. We had a policy not to tell any of Dad's colleagues about our business dealings. We didn't ask them anything and we didn't tell them anything."

Eddie Obeid Snr is expected to give evidence later on Friday.

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