The then-chief financial officer of investment bank Rothschild warned Arthur Sinodinos cash flow and costs were out of control at Australian Water Holdings before he became chairman of the company, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard.
According to The Australian, Rod De Aboitiz invested $1 million from his family trust in the business, which has been linked to corrupt Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, when he worked at Rothschild. Nick Di Girolamo, AWH’s chief executive at the time, was an old school friend.
ICAC heard that, despite the dire financial position, the company’s 10 employees were paid high salaries and enjoyed expensive travel and restaurant meals, such as $900 dinners at Rockpool. Sinodinos was a director of the company in May 2010 when de Aboitiz went to speak to him.
“I wanted to make sure that there was no doubt, at the executive level of the board and the non-executive level of the board, there was a clear understanding that they needed to get their affairs in order,” he told the commission.
“Arthur, you know that solvency’s a big issue for a director. You’re a director. You’re an experienced person. This is silly. I understand Sydney Water may be playing hard ball with you with respect but surely, surely you are in control of your own cashflow,” he said he told Sinodinos.
“He assured me the board was on top of it and it was taken care of.”
Previous evidence has suggested Sinodinos, John Howard’s former chief of staff, was employed as a director to open doors with the Liberal Party.
ICAC also heard he provided advice on a letter to Howard’s office, lobbying for contracts on government-owned land, though is is unclear if the letter was sent, replied to, or if Sinodinos was paid.
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