ICAC findings of Corrupt Conduct re Eddie Obeid, Jo Tripodi and Steve Dunn
ICAC finds the Hon Edward Obeid and the Hon Joseph Tripodi corrupt over Circular Quay retail lease policy
Thursday 5 June 2014
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that former member of the NSW Legislative Council the Hon Edward Obeid and former minister the Hon Joseph Tripodi engaged in corrupt conduct concerning retail leases at Circular Quay in which the Obeid family had financial interests. A corrupt conduct finding is also made against Steve Dunn, former deputy chief executive officer and property division head of the Maritime Authority of NSW.
In its report, Investigation into the conduct of the Hon Edward Obeid MLC and others concerning Circular Quay retail lease policy, released today, the Commission finds that Mr Obeid misused his position as an MP to make representations to ministers and Mr Dunn on various occasions in relation to the management of retail leases at Circular Quay.
These included representations to minister the Hon Carl Scully in around 2000 that Mr Scully should benefit Circular Quay leaseholders by ensuring they were offered new leases with five-year terms and options for renewal for five years at a time when Mr Obeid knew the leaseholders had donated $50,000 to the Australian Labor Party as payment for the carrying out of what they understood to be a promise that their interests would be looked after by the government.
Mr Obeid also made representations to ministers Michael Costa and the Hon Eric Roozendaal between 2003 and 2006 to change government policy to allow direct negotiations for new leases with existing leaseholders, rather than proceed with an open tender process, while deliberately failing to disclose to them that his family had an interest in Circular Quay leases and would benefit financially from such a policy change. Mr Obeid also misused his position as an MP to benefit his family’s financial interests by making representations to Mr Tripodi and Mr Dunn to pressure them to change government policy to allow for the above direct negotiations, rather than proceed with an open tender process.
Mr Tripodi engaged in corrupt conduct in 2007 by deliberately failing to disclose to his Cabinet colleagues his awareness of the Obeid family’s financial interests in Circular Quay leases, knowing that those interests would benefit from Cabinet’s endorsement of changes to Maritime’s Commercial Lease Policy by effectively eliminating any real prospect of a public tender process for those leases and instead permitting direct negotiations for their Circular Quay tenancies. Mr Dunn engaged in corrupt conduct in 2007 by using his public official position to benefit Mr Obeid and the Obeid family by effectively bringing about a change to the Commercial Lease Policy to allow for direct negotiations with existing Circular Quay leaseholders, knowing that the Obeid family’s financial interests in such leases would benefit from the change.
The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Mr Obeid for common law criminal offences of misconduct in public office in relation to his representations to Ministers Costa, Roozendaal and Tripodi.
The ICAC held public inquiries into this matter (Operation Cyrus), along with two other investigations that also dealt with allegations that Mr Obeid had misused his position as an MP (Operations Cabot and Meeka). Assistant Commissioner the Hon Anthony Whealy QC presided at the public inquiries, which were conducted between 28 October and 25 November 2013. Evidence was taken from 14 witnesses.
Media contact: ICAC Manager Communicaitons & Media Nicole Thomas 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801