ICAC finds corrupt conduct in relation to benefit to former minister

Wednesday 31 July 2013

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found that Moses Obeid engaged in corrupt conduct in relation to the provision of a $10,800 benefit in 2007 to the then Hon Eric Roozendaal MLC.

The Commission's report, Investigation into the conduct of Moses Obeid, Eric Roozendaal and others, released today, finds that Moses Obeid provided a benefit to Mr Roozendaal as an inducement for Mr Roozendaal to show favour to Obeid business interests in the exercise of his official functions, or the receipt of which would tend to influence Mr Roozendaal to show favour to Obeid business interests in the exercise of his public official functions.

The report notes that, on learning Mr Roozendaal was looking for a new motor car in 2007, Moses Obeid asked his neighbour and friend, Peter Fitzhenry, to assist in obtaining a Honda CR-V Sports vehicle. Mr Roozendaal told the Commission that he had told fellow MLC the Hon Edward Obeid MLC (Edward Obeid Sr) that there had been an accident involving his previous Honda CR-V. Edward Obeid Sr suggested he speak to his son Moses Obeid about a replacement vehicle because Moses Obeid had a contact in the car industry. Mr Fitzhenry was the contact; he is the owner of a panel-beating and spray-painting company, and also holds a licence to deal in motor vehicles. He had previously assisted members of the Obeid family in buying and selling motor cars.

Mr Roozendaal spoke to Moses Obeid, who in turn spoke to Mr Fitzhenry. Mr Fitzhenry asked his colleague and licensed motor dealer, Keith Goodman, to find a car. Mr Goodman found that a suitable vehicle was available from Peter Warren Automotive, at an "on the road" price of $38,800, although the retail price for such a vehicle was approximately $44,000. Mr Fitzhenry advised Moses Obeid that a vehicle had been sourced.

Moses Obeid then gave Mr Fitzhenry a cheque in the sum of $44,800, drawn in the account of Challenge Property Investments Pty Ltd, a company owned by brothers Rocco and Rosario Triulcio, who are close business associates of the Obeid family. This sum constituted a loan by Challenge Property Investments to the Obeid Corporation.

The Commission finds that Moses Obeid agreed with Mr Fitzhenry that Mr Fitzhenry should find a Honda CR-V at a purchase price of $44,800 for Mr Roozendaal. Moses Obeid would ensure that Mr Fitzhenry would be paid that $44,800 sum, which included a $6,000 commission to Mr Fitzhenry and Mr Goodman. Moses Obeid agreed with Mr Roozendaal that the latter would pay $34,000 for the vehicle, and then Moses Obeid took steps to have the transaction (which he had arranged) perfected according to the agreed terms. Moses Obeid arranged for the Obeid Corporation to pay $10,800 towards the $44,800 purchase price in order to provide a benefit to Mr Roozendaal.

Mr Roozendaal admitted that he obtained an almost new car at a substantial discount through Moses Obeid's contacts. Submissions made by counsel for Mr Roozendaal conceded that his actions in allowing Moses Obeid to arrange for the purchase of the car may have shown a lack of "judgment or insight" on Mr Roozendaal's part.

Mr Roozendaal also conceded in evidence that it was, in retrospect, odd or unusual that he had been allowed to collect the car from Mr Fitzhenry's premises without signing any documents or paying anything (Mr Roozendaal later paid the $34,000 to an account held by KF Goodman from an account in Mr Roozendaal's and his wife's names). Despite these concerns, the report says that the ICAC did not find sufficient evidence to establish that Mr Roozendaal knew about the various financial transactions that were undertaken or the unnecessary transactions undertaken to interpose other persons as prior owners of the car, and made no finding of corrupt conduct on the part of Mr Roozendaal.

The Commission also does not find sufficient evidence to establish corrupt conduct on the part of Edward Obeid Sr, Paul Obeid, Rocco Triulcio and Rosario Triulcio.

The report finds, however, that the evidence of Moses Obeid, Paul Obeid, Rocco Triulcio and Rosario Triulcio was untrue in several important respects. In the circumstances, the Commission considers that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be sought with respect to their prosecution for offences of providing false or misleading evidence to the Commission (details of the recommended offences are in the attached fact sheet).

Fact sheet

Investigation report

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801