Mining corruption laws bring new powers in NSW

Profits from corrupt dealings in the mining industry will more easily recoverable, with two new bills passed to the NSW upper house on Wednesday.

The Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced in February by NSW premier Barry O’Farrell in the wake of cancellations of the Doyles Creek, Mount Penny and Glendon Brook exploration licences.

The bill is coupled with the Criminal Assets Recovery Amendment Bill 2014, which will facilitate the recovery of proceeds of crime derived from people who were not the direct perpetrators of corrupt dealings.

Premier O’Farrell said the amendments are intended to combat criminal proceeds going into a family trust or similar entity under the name of an innocent party.

He also specified that increases in the value of property or company shares, attributable to crime or corruption, will be recovered as proceeds of crime.

“This State was shocked by the revelations of corruption exposed last year by the Independent

Commission Against Corruption,” O’Farrell said.

“In January, we took action to restore public confidence in the allocation of the State's valuable mining resources; to ensure that the tainted processes that led to exploration licences being granted do not infect future processes, such as mining leases; and to ensure that no person may derive any further financial benefit from the tainted processes.”

Amendments to the mining and petroleum legislation will also create new powers to suspend any resource activities in the public interest, where the applicant is not considered a “fit and proper person”.

Bankruptcy, cancelled mining rights, and poor personal character have all been cited as factors that define an unfit applicant.

Last year the Independent Commission Against Corruption found that former NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald, Eddie Obeid and Moses Obeid were engaged in corrupt conduct, after investigations carried out by operations Jasper and Acacia.

“The Independent Commission Against Corruption revelations in Operations Jasper and Acacia have shocked all members of this House,” premier O’Farrell said in the second reading of the amendments.

“The corrupt actions of the former minister for Mineral Resources and others…not only have denied the taxpayers of this State of potentially millions if not tens and maybe hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, but also they have damaged the reputation of the New South Wales government… as a destination for investment.”

Image: ABC

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