Former Labor powerbroker and NSW government minister Eddie Obeid has been found guilty of misconduct in public office.
The jury verdict was handed down today following a three-week Supreme Court trial, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The decision vindicates the 2014 findings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which found Obeid and former fellow minister Joe Tripodi acted corruptly over retail leases at Sydney’s Circular Quay.
The prosecution dates back to 2007, when Obeid, a member of the NSW Legislative Council under then premier Morris Iemma, used his position to get the Maritime Authority of NSW to provide favourable deals his family business, Circular Quay Restaurants Pty Ltd.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed Obeid’s secret connections to the business in 2012, sparking the ICAC investigation, which found that he lobbied fellow Labor MPs Michael Costa and Eric Roozendaal over the leases without disclosing his family link, as well as Tripodi to change government policy, knowing it would benefit the Obeid family.
The Obeid family had secret interests in two cafes on wharves four and five at Circular Quay, and sought to have the leases renewed without going to public tender.
Fairfax Media reports Obeid was found to have lobbied the then deputy CEO of the Maritime Authority, pretending he was acting in the public interest without revealing his family’s financial interests.
Obeid, 72, last year attempted to sue the state of NSW and key ICAC protagonists over the findings and boasted of a “1%” chance he would face criminal charges from the ICAC findings. It took the jury two days of deliberations to find him guilty, the first person prosecuted as a result of ICAC’s investigations.
Obeid faces a stint in prison after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of misconduct in public office over his family’s secret business dealings at Circular Quay.
The disgraced former MP may become the first one jailed in NSW for corruption in office since another Labor politician, Rex “Buckets” Jackson was jailed in the 1980s for taking bribes. Two other MPs subsequently served prison terms – Liberal Barry Morris in 1996 for making death threats, and Labor’s Milton Orkopoulos in 2008 for child sex and drug offences.
The prosecution is pushing for a custodial sentence for Obeid, who is on bail until sentencing, with submissions scheduled for August 12.
The Herald has more here.
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