Sydney Water reaches confidential settlement with Australian Water Holdings over expenses claims

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sydney Water has settled its legal action against a company linked to the family of disgraced ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid, Australian Water Holdings (AWH), over expenses the company billed to the state-owned body.

The issue became the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing last year.

Sydney Water began Federal Court proceedings in June 2014 to recover expenses it believed were wrongly charged to it by AWH. The value of the out-of-court settlement is confidential, but there is speculation the figure could be close to $2 million. AWH’s contract was to deliver water and sewerage infrastructure for Sydney Water and the ICAC investigation was told that the Obeid family had a hidden stake in the business.

The ICAC has not yet delivered the findings of its investigation into AWH, but in statement released on Friday, Sydney Water managing Kevin Young said “we were mindful of the evidence presented during the Operation Credo hearings at the ICAC in regards to amounts inappropriately invoiced to Sydney Water by AWH, and the community’s reaction to this evidence”.

He said the settlement delivered a “positive financial outcome” for customers.

“Sydney Water’s customers can be assured that the decision to settle and not proceed with a potentially long, expensive and highly complex hearing, is a commercially sensible result,” Young said.

“In making the decision not to proceed to hearing, Sydney Water and its Board carefully considered all of the available options.

Young added that under new ownership and management, AWH had provided value for money for Sydney Water since entering a new contract in 2012.

The decision comes after a High Court decision on Wednesday about the limits of the ICAC’s powers in investigating corrupt conduct.