Deals and wheels under the spotlight

PART ONE of the trilogy of corruption inquiries starring former Labor ministers will get under way today in a purpose-built hearing room to accommodate a battalion of barristers who, over the next five months, will represent more than 70 witnesses.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption’s three-part inquiry is expected to be one of the most sensational in NSW history and will examine explosive corruption allegations against the former ministers Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Eric Roozendaal.

Also on the witness list are three former premiers – Morris Iemma, Kristina Keneally and Nathan Rees – along with senior ministers including Frank Sartor.

Mr Roozendaal, who is the only one of the three Labor heavyweights still in Parliament, will feature in the first of the inquiries, which will start at 10am and is expected to run for a week.

Operation Indus will investigate the circumstances in which Moses Obeid, one of the five sons of the former minister, provided a brand new Honda CRV to Mr Roozendaal, the then minister for commerce and roads.

The first witness scheduled to give evidence is a Camperdown panel beater, Peter Fitzhenry, who will be followed by a car dealer, Keith Goodman.

The pair are expected to provide details of Moses Obeid’s 2007 request that the pair source a black Honda CRV for Mr Roozendaal but to put the car in the name of Nata Re.

Once Mr Roozendaal had taken delivery of the Honda, Moses Obeid organised the $44,000 payment from an account of his business partner, the property developer Rocco Triulcio.

Nata Re is the sister of Mr Triulcio. Mrs Re has previously told Fairfax Media that she had never owned a Honda CRV and that she had never heard of Eric Roozendaal.

Mr Triulcio said he could not remember any payments but he was planning to buy the Honda for his sister. He then changed his mind and gave her his old Mercedes.

Last year Mr Roozendaal confirmed that Moses Obeid had organised the purchase of the car for him, and that it was subsequently registered to his wife Amanda, but the former minister said his actions had ”all been completely kosher” and that he had paid $34,000 to the dealer for his car.

Mr and Mrs Roozendaal and Moses Obeid are expected to give evidence next week.

The ICAC Commissioner, David Ipp, QC, will preside over the public inquiry. Counsel assisting the Commission for Operation Indus are Geoffrey Watson, SC, and Nicholas Chen.

After Mr Roozendaal and his set of wheels are finished, the corruption commission will move on to allegations of corruption over coal exploration licences which involve Moses Obeid’s father, Eddie, and the former mining minister Ian Macdonald. Some time in March next year the third inquiry will examine Mr Macdonald’s granting of a training mine to his friend, the former union boss John Maitland.

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