A key political figure has been suspended from the Australian Labor Party following allegations that he stood to net around AUD$100 million from corrupt coal deals in the state of New South Wales.
Fairfax reports that the family of Labor Party stalwart Eddie Obeid received $30 million and would have received a further $70 million via shady dealings involving coal exploration licenses and the use of insider information.
An inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) alleges that Obeid, a key factional power broker within the ALP, compelled disgraced forming mining minister Ian MacDonald to abuse his position of authority in order to obtain “massive cascading profits” which were “in the order of $100 million.”
Geoffrey Watson SC, counsel assisting the inquiry, said in his opening address before ICAC on Monday that it was “the most important investigation ever undertaken” by the commission, and involves “corruption on a scale probably unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps.”
MacDonald is alleged to have rigged a public tender, demoted a senior official and made changes to the state’s official coal license maps all at Obeid’s behest.
According to the allegations presented before ICAC the Obeid family and related parties purchased three adjoining properties for which Mr. Macdonald subsequently conferred an exploration license, enabling the Obeids and their associates to obtain profits to the tune of nearly $26 million.
The Obeids also used confidential information about the winner of government tenders to obtain a payment of $30 million from private company Cascade Coal, with a further $30 million still expected. Cascade attempted to disguise the payment of the initial installment by funneling $7.5 million through the personal bank account of Amanda Poole, the wife of key Cascade investor Richard Poole.
Head of the NSW State Labor Party suspended Abeid from the Labor Party on Tuesday night and has since described the allegations as “shocking.”
Images of Eddie Obeid courtesy of Ten News via Youtube