Macdonald grilled over alleged mining bribes

As former Labor minister Ian Macdonald’s denials keep coming so do the questions and ‘coincidences’.

Wednesday was Macdonald’s third day at the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiry into suspect coal licences granted under the ex-minister’s watch in 2008.

Council assisting the inquiry Geoffrey Watson put it to Macdonald that he was paid $450,000 to keep "rolling along" until a corrupt $500 million coal deal in the NSW Bylong Valley, linked to Labor colleague Eddie Obeid and his family, was completed.

The deal was between Cascade Coal and White Energy.

Macdonald is alleged to have rigged a tender process for coalmining exploration licences to benefit of the Obeid’s, who owned land around Mount Penny where the coal tenement was created.

Watson labelled Macdonald's evidence as "a load of hooey" after he was shown an atlas he claims to have used to decide where the Mount Penny tenement would be located.

"I'm going to suggest that all this business about you finding it in an atlas, that's a load of hooey; you made it up because you knew you were in trouble," Watson said.

"I disagree with it," Macdonald replied.

Yesterday the commission heard Macdonald received $450,000 in "loans" from a company linked to his associate, lawyer John Gerathy.

White Energy made a $500 million bid for Cascade, who was the owner of the exploration licence.

ICAC has also been told the Obeids had a $60 million deal to sell out their stake in Cascade.

"At that time you could pay Gerathy back his money and you'd be rolling in clover," Watson suggested.

Macdonald denied this, saying he wasn't going to "get anything out of any of those things".

The commission has heard the payments were made to a company associated with Macdonald as a series of $25,000 and $15,000 loans between September 2010 and July 2012, the Newcastle Herald reported.

But there was no security for the loans until May 28, 2012, six days after Gerathy was summoned by ICAC to produce financial records.

"It seems a bit fishy doesn't it?" Watson asked Macdonald.

"It's not fishy," Macdonald replied.

The payments were for business purposes not to pay personal expenses, Macdonald said.

ICAC has also alleged notes handwritten by Macdonald’s friend, and businessman Greg Jones indicate the ex-MP stood to receive millions of dollars for favours done when he was mining minister.

Macdonald denied any knowledge of the notes.

"I'm not aware of what this is about," he said.

When asked if he received $30,000 in cash and gifts from Jones and associated entities Macdonald again denied the claim.

"I haven't received anything like that," he said.

He did however concede he had received a wedding present and birthday presents from Jones but said $30,000 seemed "an extraordinary amount".

Macdonald’s finances were prominent in yesterday’s line of questioning; it was revealed the ex-minister had 14 separate bank accounts during his time in office.

He said he wasn’t aware if all of them were “operational”, adding that some could be related to several “farm enterprises”.

The inquiry continues today.

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