A consultant acting for potential Chinese investors was assured there would be no trouble winning an exploration licence for a NSW coal venture thanks to a "very good connection" to then NSW resources minister Ian Macdonald.
Chinese-born mining consultant Barry Yin told a corruption inquiry in Sydney that Obeid family associate Gardner Brook had been trying to woo investors to Monaro Mining, which in 2008 was tendering for coal licences in the Bylong Valley.
Appearing before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Friday, Mr Yin said he had become frustrated with Mr Brook, a former senior vice president at Lehman Brothers, and his talk that he could procure a mining licence for the Mount Penny tenement.
Mr Brook had boasted of knowing Mr Macdonald, who has been accused of rigging the tendering process for the exploration licences in favour of Labor colleague Eddie Obeid, his family and their associates.
"He said he had a very good connection with Ian Macdonald," Mr Yin said.
"Privately he talked to me. He said keep it secret, you can't tell other people.
"He said if your serious investors come into Sydney I can organise a coffee chatting together. I can ask him (Mr Macdonald) come in your hotel and we can meet each other."
Three months after that meeting Mr Brook introduced Mr Yin to a person he called "some important man's son", who was in his 30s, bald, and matching the description of Mr Obeid's son Moses.
The three met in a coffee shop in either the Sofitel or Westin Hotel in Sydney, where Mr Yin said he was assured Monaro would be granted the Mount Penny exploration licence.
"Three of us had a coffee and Gardner said (the third man's) father is the president of the Legislative Council," Mr Yin said.
Mr Yin could not recall the third man's name, but asked if he remembered who the father was, he said "Eddie something".
"What did the son of the powerful man say about Ian Macdonald?" counsel assisting the inquiry Geoffrey Watson asked.
"He said, `We're old friends that do business together'," Mr Yin said.
"He said, `We are all friends and we always have a party and meet each other. You believe us, we can grant the licence and no worry about the licence'."
Monaro Mining, through a joint venture with one of the Obeids' $2 shelf companies Voope, had been primed to win the 2008 coal tender for Mount Penny, ICAC has heard.
But when the Monaro board got cold feet and pulled out of the deal, the Obeids swung behind the eventual winner Cascade Coal in a deal that netted them tens of millions of dollars.
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