Crown case against Obeid is fantasy: QC

Moses Obeid (pictured), his father Eddie and Ian Macdonald are on trial in the NSW Supreme Court.
Moses Obeid (pictured), his father Eddie and Ian Macdonald are on trial in the NSW Supreme Court.

The "half-baked" Crown case against Moses Obeid involved "reconstructed fiction" flowing from fruitless investigations by the NSW anti-corruption watchdog, his trial has been told.

"There was no conspiracy. There was no agreement. Mr Moses Obeid is completely innocent," his barrister Maurice Neil QC said on Tuesday in his opening address.

"The case does not come within a bull's roar of beyond reasonable doubt."

Obeid, 50, his father Eddie Obeid, 76, and ex-fellow NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald, 70, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring between September 2007 and January 2009 for Macdonald to "wilfully misconduct" himself.

The alleged plot involved the then mineral resources minister breaching his duties of impartiality and confidentiality in relation to the granting of a coalmining exploration licence in an area that included the Obeid family farm, Cherrydale Park at Mt Penny in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee.

Mr Neil on Tuesday said the prosecution arose out of investigations by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

"There has clearly been a massive amount of money spent and time spent investigating this matter .... all in the long run, we say, fruitless."

The Crown was wearing "ICAC glasses" which sees things in a gloomy and dark way, but when they are taken off "the same facts are innocent", he said.

"It is all reconstruction. It is fantasy. It is fiction. The whole Crown case is reconstructed fiction."

The Crown contends the Obeid family negotiated a $60 million "windfall" - half of which was paid - from the winning bidder of the licence after allegedly receiving inside information on the tender process from Macdonald.

But Mr Neil said his client had engaged in normal commercial activities in pursuing a business arrangement with prospective coal miners, action which had nothing to do with a conspiracy.

"What was done was perfectly permissible and lawful," he said.

"The Crown adopts an artificial and blinkered approach to the relationship between government and industry."

He referred to the tendering process being re-opened after companies including one associated with the Obeids, Monaro Coal, had submitted bids for the licence.

"That is absolutely inconsistent with any conspiracy to help the Obeids - it completely dumped them."

The Crown alleged the Obeids planned to be "silent partners" with whichever mining company won the bid and Monaro Coal was not told of the Obeids' involvement during negotiations.

"There is nothing wrong with a family that might have been somewhat publicly known, or any family, wanting to have their family's commercial dealings out of the headlines," Mr Neil said.

"This was all innocent - but there again, the wrong glasses were on."

Mr Neil will continue his address on Wednesday at the judge-alone trial before Justice Elizabeth Fullerton.

Former NSW premier Morris Iemma is expected to be the first crown witness.

Australian Associated Press