‘I don’t believe my family does anything shonky,’ Obeid tells ICAC

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ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid has declared his family does not do “shonky” business, under intense questioning about millions of dollars flowing through his family’s accounts.

Even though it was revealed that Mr Obeid and his wife were the ultimate beneficiaries of the family trust, he repeatedly declared he did not know and could not explain the workings of the accounts – including how it was that payments made to his family’s business partners, its staff and even to himself were channelled through his wife’s loan account.

“I have no knowledge of these accounts,” he said, though he also claimed he had trained and worked as an accountant during an early period in his career.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has interrogated Mr Obeid as part of its investigation into a 2008 coal tender which it has alleged was corrupted by the Obeid family and the disgraced former minister, Ian Macdonald.

Mr Obeid’s son has admitted the Obeid family stood to make at least $75 million from the tender, by taking secret shareholdings in two winning mining companies and by locking up much of the land under a new tenement created by Mr Macdonald.

Taking Mr Obeid through page after page of mysterious account entries, counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson SC, remarked: “It looks shonky, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t believe my family does anything shonky,” Mr Obeid replied. The Commissioner, David Ipp QC, said to Mr Obeid he was bewildered by the structure of the family’s trust accounts, and said he could not understand why Mr Obeid said he knew nothing of them.

“You wash your hands of all responsibility of all of these, all these [account] entries,” Mr Ipp said.

The documents showed that while Mr Obeid told the NSW Parliament he had not earned any income beyond his ordinary parliamentary salary, he was drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the family trust.

In all, between 2001 and 2011, Mr Obeid drew more than $2.3 million from the trust.

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