File missing ‘after minister’s tip-off’

THE solicitor Christopher Shaw was surprised to get a call from the Independent Commission Against Corruption in early September asking for a file.

When he checked his firm’s archives, he was even more surprised to find that someone had already accessed the file. That someone was his former partner, John Gerathy.

The corruption inquiry heard damaging evidence on Thursday that the disgraced former mining minister Ian Macdonald had been called to a secret ICAC hearing in September. In an alleged breach of the commission’s confidentiality requirements, Mr Macdonald immediately rang Mr Gerathy, his good friend and business partner.

”Did you attempt to retrieve this file from Shaw Reynolds shortly after being told by Mr Macdonald that he had been called here and had been giving evidence?” asked counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, SC.

”Not, not, that is not my recollection, Mr Watson,” Mr Gerathy answered.

The file was that of a Hong Kong-based businessman Alan Fang, of Tianda Resources. Mr Fang was a good a friend of Mr Macdonald’s who introduced him to Mr Gerathy.

The ICAC was interested in this file because Tianda was the company that the family of the Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid had initially put forward to not only buy their farming properties at Bylong but to be the winner of the government coal mining tender that was being run by Mr Macdonald.

The hearing has been told the Obeids had inside information about the tender from Mr Macdonald which was to make them $100 million richer.

In 2008 Mr Gerathy spoke with Moses Obeid, Mr Fang and others to nut out the details of the sale of the Obeids’ land to Mr Fang’s company. This was well before the winning bidder of the Mt Penny licence, which covered the Obeid properties, was announced.

Mr Shaw said on Thursday that as soon as he discovered that Mr Gerathy’s conveyancing clerk had already obtained the Tianda file, he demanded it be returned immediately. When he opened it, crucial documents were allegedly missing. Mr Gerathy, who denied removing any material from the file, was told he would be recalled to the witness box.

In other evidence Rocco and Rosario Triulcio, the colourful property developing partners of the Obeids, had the public gallery in stitches as they tried in vain to explain why they hid their ”dream leisure retreat” in the name of their accountant.

When asked the name of their Bylong property, next door to the Obeid farm, Rocco Triulcio said, ”It wasn’t an interest of mine to know the name of the property.” The brothers were co-owners of ”Donola” with the Obeids but both families hid their interest by putting their accountant John Campo as their ”front”.

Only months after the Triulcios bought ”Donola” in 2008, the Obeids organised the sale of it and two other properties they had in Bylong. After Tianda dropped out, the Obeid consortium signed up with Cascade Coal, which went on to win the exploration licence at Mt Penny.

The inquiry continues.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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