Eddie and Moses Obeid, Ian Macdonald case: Trio dispute over convictions
Former NSW Labor MP Eddie Obeid, his son Moses and his former Council of Ministers ally Ian Macdonald have told an appeals court their convictions over a lucrative coal license should be overturned because prosecutors failed to prove they were conspired to commit a crime.
Dressed in prison green, the Obeids appeared at the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal from Kirkconnell Correctional Center via an audiovisual link, while Macdonald appeared from Lithgow Correctional Centre.
In a July 2021 decision, NSW Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton found the trio guilty in 2008 of conspiring to charge Macdonald, then the state’s Mines Minister, with willful misconduct in connection with the issuance of an NSW coal exploration license in a would hold public office.
The license was granted by Macdonald’s Department in 2009 for properties including Cherrydale Park, an Obeid family farm on Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley. The Obeids were subsequently paid $30 million by a coal company to pull them out of a joint venture.
Fullerton found that Macdonald had committed a number of acts of willful misconduct as part of the conspiracy, including providing Moses Obeid with a confidential list of mining companies who may have been invited by the government to participate in an expression of interest process for the exploration license.
Barrister Bret Walker, SC, who acted for Moses Obeid, argued before Sydney’s Criminal Court of Appeal on Monday that the Crown had failed to prove his client had entered into an unlawful agreement with his father and Macdonald that the latter would breach certain acts his ministerial duties of impartiality and confidentiality.
Walker said there was a “complete absence of material, similar to, for example… [an] intercepted conversation of people planning a “conspiracy” to commit a crime.
“Unless you know what acts the conspirators agreed upon and are committing by one or the other of them, you will not be able to show that the conspirators knew things that would make those acts criminal,” Walker said.
Fullerton found in 2021 that Macdonald used information he received as minister, including the July 2008 company list, “to transfer a private interest to Moses Obeid and his family”.