BREAKING: Corrupt Obeid cops three years jail
Corrupt former NSW minister Eddie Obeid has been sentenced to a maximum jail term of five years for misconduct in public office.
The one-time Labor kingpin was sentenced today after he used his position as a member of the NSW Upper house to lobby a senior bureaucrat over lucrative Circular Quay café leases without revealing his family's financial interests in the businesses.
Obeid was sentenced to a minimum three year's imprisonment by Justice Robert Beech-Jones.
He will be eligible for parole on December 15 2019.
Obeid remained pursed lipped and apparently expressionless as the verdict was handed down in front of a packed courtroom.
His family, including his wife Judith brushed away tears after learning the former MP would be imprisoned.
The 73-year-old was found guilty by a jury in June, following a three-week trial at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney.
During his sentencing remarks Justice Robert Beech-Jones said it was "inconceivable" that Obeid did not know he could not use his position as an MP for the financial benefit of his family, given his 16 years in parliament.
"He intentionally abused the public trust proposed in him as a member of the legislative council of NSW," he said.
He later added there was no difference between a politician taking a bribe and Obeid using his position as an MP to advance the interests of his family.
Justice Beech Jones also added that Mr Obeid's offending was a "very serious example" of the charge of wilful misconduct in public office because of the "onerous nature" of his role as a parliamentarian.
Obeid, a former property developer, has a "constellation" of medical issues and was reported to have suffered a stroke in August.
The guilty verdict and subsequent jail sentence comes after he boasted there was only a "one per cent" chance that he would ever be criminally charged after the Independent Commission Against Corruption made adverse findings against him.
During the trial, the jury heard Obeid had lobbied NSW Maritime Authority deputy chief executive Steve Dunn between August and November 2007 in relation to the cafe leases, under the guise that he was acting on behalf of constituents.
But he was in fact acting in the secret interests of his family.
The Obeid family and the MP's brother-in-law John Abood secured an interest in Café Sorrentino and Quay Eatery, at wharves four and five, for $2 million, when the existing lease had about three years left.
The court heard the family were among a number of tenants who wanted their leases renewed without having to compete in a public tender.
At the opening of the trial Crown prosecutor Peter Neil SC told the jury Obeid had "acted in wilful and serious breach" of his position as an MP when he lobbied Mr Dunn, not long after he had taken up his new position at the state Maritime Authority.
Mr Neil also argued that cash receipts were regularly collected from the businesses and cash from the takings were regularly paid to the Obeid family - predominantly Judith Obeid, Mr Obeid's wife.
The jury heard how Mr Dunn, honestly believed the issue of the waterfront leases was being raised by Obeid was "on behalf of arms length constituents who claimed that have been mistreated".
"Mr Dunn had no idea that the accused had any private interest ... in these Circular Quay leases," Mr Neil said.
The pair met when Mr Dunn was the director-general of the fisheries department and Obeid was the fisheries minister.
Mr Dunn was not accused of any misconduct and it was outlined how he had been in a brand new position when Obeid made contact with him.
Not long after Obeid had spoken to Mr Dunn on "behalf of constituents", a draft commercial leasing policy was changed so that the Circular Quay cafe leases could be renewed without a tender.
LIFE AND TIMES OF EDDIE OBEID
1991: Lebanon-born businessman Eddie Obeid elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council for Labor to replace Jack Hallam
1999: Is appointed minister for fisheries and mineral resources, a role he holds until 2003
2002: Is investigated by a parliamentary inquiry over pecuniary interests, but ultimately cleared of wrongdoing
2011: Resigns from parliament citing his granddaughter's battle with kidney cancer June 6,
2013: Obeid and fellow ex-NSW minister Ian Macdonald expelled from Labor for bringing the party into disrepute, following allegations of corruption aired at the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption
June 31, 2013: Independent Commissioner Against Corruption finds Obeid acted corruptly over the granting of a coal licence on land owned by the MP's family at Mount Penny, recommends criminal charges
June 5, 2014: ICAC finds Obeid and fellow ex-NSW minister Joe Tripodi engaged in corrupt conduct over Circular Quay retail leases
December 18, 2014: Appears in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court to answer the charge of misconduct in public office for failing to declare his interest in the Circular Quay leases. He later pleads not guilty
February 10, 2016: NSW Supreme Court trial begins, but the jury is discharged on the 10th day after new evidence emerges
June 6, 2016: Obeid's retrial begins
June 28, 2016: Jury finds Obeid, 72, guilty of wilful misconduct in public office.