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Coal licence conspiracy allegations facing Obeid family are 'reconstructed fiction', court hears

Abayomi

Feb. 18, 2020

A Sydney court has been told the crown case in the conspiracy trial of former NSW Labor heavyweight Eddie Obeid, his son Moses and former minister Ian Macdonald is "reconstructed fiction".
Key points:
Eddie Obeid, his son Moses and former resources minister Ian Macdonald are accused of conspiring over a coal licence granted to the Obeid family.
The crown alleges the licence was issued under motivations including repaying "past political favours"
The defence said the allegations are "reconstructed fiction"
Eddie Obeid, 76, Moses Obeid, 50, and Mr Macdonald, 70, are accused of conspiring over a coal mining licence that was granted over the Obeid family farm in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee when Mr Macdonald was resources minister in 2009.
The crown case is that Mr Macdonald and Eddie Obeid had a close personal and working relationship and the Obeid family stood to make $60 million from the deal.
The court has heard crown allegations that Mr Macdonald breached his confidentiality obligations to repay Eddie Obeid for past political favours and to try to secure preferential future treatment from him.
Opening the defence case for Moses Obeid, his barrister, Maurice Neil, today told the court there was no conspiracy and his client is "completely innocent".
"We say the case fails in the law and in fact."
Mr Neil said the criminal trial has been "impaired" by an ICAC inquiry that involved looking at the facts through the wrong pair of glasses.
He said the ICAC public inquiry used up a "massive amount" of time and money.
Mr Macdonald's defence barrister, John Martin, yesterday told the court the crown case is mere speculation and a "reductionist attempt to rewrite history".
He described Mr Macdonald as a minister who was passionate about his work and trying to act in the best interests of the state of NSW.
"He was an effective mining minister," Mr Martin told the court.
Eddie Obeid's barrister, April Francis, has previously told the court there were complex commercial arrangements surrounding the coal licence and there is an "innocent" alternative explanation to the crown version of events.
The judge-alone trial continues before Justice Elizabeth Fullerton, with witnesses expected to be called from Wednesday.
The six-month trial will hear from more than 50 witnesses including Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and former NSW premier Morris Iemma.
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