Former Labor minister Eddie Obeid's son told a business associate he urgently needed to finalise the purchase of farms in the Bylong Valley before a NSW government decision increased their value tenfold, a corruption inquiry has heard.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is investigating if decisions made by former mining minister Ian Macdonald about licences in the Bylong Valley area were designed to benefit political colleague Obeid, who owned property in the area.
ICAC was on Monday shown a signed statement by Arlo Selby, a former commodities trader with business ties to the Obeids, in which it was claimed Moses Obeid needed an investor to step in to fast-track the settlement of the Obeid family's Bylong Valley properties.
In the statement, dated 11 January, 2011, Mr Selby said Moses Obeid told him he needed an investor urgently because "when a government announcement due to come out within the next three months becomes public the value of those farms would automatically go up tenfold".
Mr Selby said in the statement, which was tendered as evidence, that Moses indicated the deal was a "very serious coal play" and that his family owned a key property in the coal-rich area.
Moses also told him he had inside information that there were about one billion tonnes of high-grade coal in the Bylong Valley, according to the statement.
The statement also alleges that at a meeting in July 2008, Moses Obeid told former Lehman Brothers senior vice-president Gardner Brook that the outcome of the tender process for coal exploration licences in the Bylong Valley was already guaranteed because Mr Macdonald was "in on the deal".
It also claims that Moses Obeid arranged a meeting between Mr Brook and then Labor ministers Michael Costa, Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald after claiming his family "had a lot of contacts within the government".
Giving evidence, Mr Selby said only some parts of the statement were accurate and on several occasions he could not recall parts of it put to him by counsel assisting the commissioner, Geoffrey Watson.
Mr Selby said two other men, one of whom was now in prison, had been involved with him in preparing the document.
Counsel for Mr Brook put it to Mr Selby that the statement had been made in an attempt to extort money from his client.
The inquiry was told Mr Selby had fallen out with Mr Brook numerous times, including once because he had "made off with his girlfriend".
"There was no love lost between you and Gardner Brook at the time you made this document, that's correct?" Mr Brook's lawyer asked.
"That would be a fair comment," Mr Selby replied.
The inquiry has previously been told the Obeids had asked Mr Brook to find a company which could partner the Obeids in a mining venture and that Mr Brook chose Monaro Mining, a small uranium company with no experience in coal.
Monaro ultimately withdrew its bid for the Mt Penny tenement, with that licence going to runner-up Cascade Coal after Mr Macdonald reopened the tender process.
The inquiry has been told Cascade subsequently paid $30 million to the Obeids.
It has been told that there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of Monaro.
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