ICAC public inquiry into alleged corruption involving former ministers and MP in relation to mining exploration licences and other matters
Tuesday 7 August 2012
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry commencing Thursday 1 November as part of three investigations (Operations Jasper, Acacia and Indus) it is conducting concerning corruption allegations involving the former NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Mineral Resources, the Hon Ian Macdonald MLC, former Member of Parliament, the Hon Edward Obeid MLC, and former NSW Minister for Roads and for Commerce, the Hon Eric Roozendaal MLC.
Last Friday, the ICAC began serving summonses to witnesses to appear and give evidence at the public inquiry. Operation Jasper will examine the circumstances surrounding a decision made in 2008 by Mr Macdonald to open a mining area in the Bylong Valley for coal exploration, including whether the decision was influenced by Edward Obeid. It will also explore the circumstances under which the Department of Primary Industries, in around September 2008, called for expressions of interest for the awarding of exploration licences for the coal mining areas known as Mount Penny, Glendon Brook and Yarrawa, and whether confidential information about the expression of interest process was provided to, and used by, Edward Obeid, members of his family and associates.
Further, Operation Jasper will examine: the circumstances surrounding the decision by the Department of Primary Industries in November 2008 to re-open the expression of interest process for the awarding of exploration licences areas and extend further invitations to additional mining companies including Cascade Coal Pty Ltd; the circumstances in which exploration licences were awarded for Mount Penny (EL 7406) and Glendon Brook (EL 7405); whether confidential information relating to the expression of interest process for Mount Penny (EL 7406) and Glendon Brook (EL 7405) was provided to, and used by, persons associated with Cascade Coal Pty Ltd; and the circumstances in which Monaro Coal Pty Ltd was awarded an exploration licence for Yarrawa (EL 7430), and how it has dealt with that exploration licence.
Operation Acacia will examine: the circumstances surrounding the issue of an invitation to Doyles Creek Pty Ltd to apply for an exploration licence (EL 7270); the circumstances surrounding the allocation of exploration licence EL 7270 to Doyles Creek Pty Ltd; the circumstances surrounding the making of profits, if any, by the shareholders of NuCoal Resources NL, the latter being the proprietor of Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd; whether a recommendation should be made to the NSW Government with respect to licences or leases over the Doyles Creek area; and whether the NSW Government should commence legal proceedings, or take any other action, against any individual or company in relation to the circumstances surrounding the allocation of EL 7270.
The third investigation, Operation Indus, will examine the circumstances in which Edward Obeid's son, Moses Obeid, provided Mr Roozendaal with a Honda CRV motor vehicle in June 2007. At the time, Mr Roozendaal was the Minister for Commerce and the Minister for Roads.
In general, the Commission will also examine whether to recommend that the NSW Government takes action to amend the Mining Act 1992, and whether to recommend that the NSW Government amends the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament.
The public inquiry will commence at 10:00 am on Thursday 1 November 2012, at which counsel assisting the Commission will make an opening address in relation to Operation Jasper. Counsel assisting will make an opening address in relation to Operation Acacia on Friday 2 November 2012. No evidence will be taken on either of these days. The opening address for Operation Indus will be made on a date to be set in 2013. Evidence for Operation Jasper will commence at 10:00 am on Monday 5 November 2012.
The ICAC will hold two directions hearing, prior to the commencement of the public inquiry, to give directions for the conduct of the public inquiry, to determine who should be authorised to appear at the public inquiry and to authorise legal representation of witnesses and persons authorised to appear at the public inquiry. No evidence will be taken at the directions hearings. The first directions hearing will commence at 10:00 am on Monday 15 October and will deal with matters relating to Operation Jasper, while the second directions hearing will commence at 10:00 am the following day (Tuesday 16 October) and deal with matters relating to Operations Acacia and Indus. The directions hearings and public inquiry will be conducted at the ICAC's hearing room on level 7, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
The ICAC Commissioner the Hon David Ipp AO QC will preside at the public inquiry, which is expected to continue until at least April 2013.
The Commission will be making no further comment at this stage.
ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas (02) 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801