Poole’s phone call raises eyebrows at ICAC hearing

Investment banker Richard Poole was the centre of yesterday’s Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations into questionable coal deals in the New South Wales Bylong Valley.

After agreeing he would never deliberately mislead the ASX, Poole was asked to listen to a secretly recorded telephone call made in March last year, the SMH reported.

In the call Poole is discussing the sale of Cascade Coal to White Energy for $500 million with Eastern Suburbs man Greg Jones.

The pair was set to make $60 million each from the sale.

However, the ASX were querying aspects of the deal, in particular a $30 million payment, which they were yet to discover was made to controversial Labor politician Eddie Obeid.

At the time there was concern the incoming Liberal government would repeal Cascade’s mining licence if anyone were to suspect a whiff of corruption around the deal.

Jones and Ian Macdonald who was in charge of the tender for mining licences were good friends at the time.

Jones had hid his Cascade shareholdings because of his relationship with Minister Macdonald, the SMH reported.

On the phone recording Poole is heard talking about writing to the ASX, using a “broad brush response” to stop any further enquiries.

''If he saw the whole picture he'd vomit – Travers, I think he'd die because he doesn't get to be known as Mr Coal then,'' said Jones, referring to mining magnate Travers Duncan, also an investor in Cascade. ''That would upset him.''

Jones also said to Poole ''Yeah, I had a talk with [Ian] Kortlang yesterday and there's like – there's no drama. It's like they're only after 'Macca' [Macdonald] … and at the end of the day it's like, you know, Macdonald's rorted his travel voucher you know like that's about it.''

Poole then replied: ''Yeah, yeah, and really once the election's over it should all be just dead and buried anyway.''

At the time the New South Wales state election, which saw the Liberal government come into power was just 10 days away.

To date the ICAC investigation has looked into decisions made by former mining minister Ian Macdonald about whether mining licences in New South Wales Bylong Valley area were designed to benefit colleague Eddie Obeid, who owned property in the region.

Image: SMH

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