Eddie Obeid … alleged to have used a series of “front” companies.A “clever forger” signed a number of documents on behalf of the Obeid family’s former in-house lawyer, Mario Sindone, a corruption inquiry has heard.
Mr Sindone worked in the Birkenhead Point office of the family of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid between May and December, 2009, the Independent Commission Against Corruption was told.
In June 2009, Mr Sindone became a director of Buffalo Resources which later negotiated for a share of the mining company set to win a government tender being run by the department of them resources minister Ian Macdonald.
The inquiry has heard that the Obeid family used inside information to acquire land where an exploration licence was going to be granted. The family is also alleged to have used a series of “front” companies to hide their interests in three rural properties as well as negotiating deals to take shares in the mining companies which won the tenders.
Mr Sindone claimed to have never have heard of Buffalo Resources and did not know, until recently, what the company did despite being its director.
He suggested that a “clever forger” was putting his signature on various trust documents used to disguise the Obeids’ interests.
Mr Sindone said he “genuinely believed [that] something untoward” has occurred and that his signature has been forged on several documents involving transactions with the Obeids. However, he was unable to indicate who the “clever forger” might have been.
In earlier evidence, Robert Macaulay, who is representing Obeid frontman Andrew Kaidbay, was castigated by the commission.
When Mr Kaidbay left the commission on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Macaulay took Mr Kaidbay to the emergency exit and then blocked the media from following him.
Counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, Sc, described the incident as “regrettable,” saying: “We are lucky enough to live in a country where there is a free press” and that lawyers should not be involved in preventing press access to a witness, let alone blocking access to a fire escape.
Mr Watson said that ordinarily he would have requested Mr Macaulay’s leave to appear before the commission be withdrawn, but due to time constraints he would not ask that this be done.
Mr Macaulay, who works for the Mascot firm Pryor Tzannes & Wallis, denied he had done an anything wrong.
Mr Kaidbay was questioned further on why he had given ICAC witness Gardner Brook $22,000 for legal fees before he gave evidence at a private commission hearing in March this year. Paul Obeid gave Mr
Kaidbay the money. But Mr Kaidbay claimed that it was his idea, not the Obeids, to pay Mr Brook’s legal fees as Mr Brook had been stopped at Brisbane airport by ICAC investigators, his passport had been seized and he had no money.
He denied Commissioner David Ipp’s suggestion that Paul Obeid wanted to make sure that Gardner Brook was legally represented so he wouldn’t “spill the beans.”
The inquiry continues.
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