Biggest Example of Corruption in 150 Years

In this Report of the Week, we are gifted what is probably one of best written corruption reports you are ever likely to read.

Irrespective of where in the world you may be – if there is one report that you take the time to download and read cover to cover in 2013, this is the report.

In the Australian state of New South Wales, the integrity agency is called the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

It has recently released a report right at the intersection of vested interests, massive personal gains, political advantage and Australia’s largest mining boom in 150 years.

Before providing an overview it is salient to note the introductory remarks in the report for they ring true for anyone that has ever been given the privilege and responsibility to investigate misadventure.  The report notes:

The investigation and exposure of corruption is an especially difficult task. 

Secrecy is at the core of corrupt conduct, and the parties to corruption have a common interest in maintaining that secrecy. 

Few paper trails are left and, occasionally, false paper trails are created. 

The persons likely to be involved are often experienced and astute in the avoidance of protocols designed to prevent corruption. 

Corrupt conduct is often the product of careful planning and considerable patience. 

(This) is a prime example of corruption of this kind.

As to why it is considered the biggest example of (Australian) corruption in 150 years, one needs to go back to the comments of the Counsel Assisting the Commission at the commencement of the Inquiry:

If it is corruption, then it is corruption on a scale probably unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps.

In late 2012, ICAC began a series of investigative hearings into the alleged property and mining interests of Mr Eddie Obeid.

Mr Obeid is a former Australian politician who served in the New South Wales Parliament from 1991 to 2011.  He was Minister for Fisheries and the Minister for Mineral Resources from 1999 to 2003.

The Inquiry considered the circumstances surrounding a decision made in 2008 by the then New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Mineral Resources, Ian Macdonald to open a mining area in regional New South Wales for coal exploration.

Mr Macdonald and Mr Obeid were colleagues in the New South Wales Parliament.

ICAC sought to determine whether Mr Macdonald’s decision was influenced by Mr Obeid.

ICAC was of the opinion that consideration should be given to seven people being charged with serious criminal offences.

Ian Macdonald, for the common law criminal offences of conspiracy to defraud or misconduct in public office in relation to his conduct in agreeing with Edward Obeid Sr and Moses Obeid (Mr Obeid’s son) to act contrary to his public duty as a minister of the Crown by arranging for the creation of the mining tenement to financially benefit Edward Obeid Sr, Moses Obeid and other members of the Obeid family and his conduct in agreeing with Edward Obeid Sr and Moses Obeid to act contrary to his public duty as a minister of the Crown by providing Moses Obeid or other members of the Obeid family with confidential information to financially benefit Edward Obeid Sr, Moses Obeid and other members of the Obeid family.

Edward Obeid Sr and Moses Obeid, each for the criminal offence of conspiracy to defraud in relation to the agreement that Mr Macdonald would create the mining tenement and criminal offences of conspiracy to defraud in relation to Mr Macdonald’s provision of confidential information, or aiding and abetting or conspiracy to commit the offence of misconduct in public office in relation to Mr Macdonald’s provision of confidential information.

The others were to be considered for the offence of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

In Summary

If one could write a hypothetical corruption report as a case study this would be the type of report that they would write.

This is corruption investigation at its finest.

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