Ex-Labor minister Obeid returned to prison
Former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid is back behind bars after a COVID-inspired bid for bail ahead of a likely appeal against his conviction was rejected.
The 77-year-old was sentenced on Thursday to at least three years and 10 months in prison over a rigged tender for a massive coal exploration licence, which delivered a $30 million windfall for his family's business empire.
But instead of heading to the Surry Hills police station to be processed, Obeid was allowed to go home over concerns he could catch COVID-19.
A hasty bail application was heard on Friday but Justice Elizabeth Fullerton wasn't satisfied there were special or exceptional circumstances that would justify Obeid's continued release.
It was ordered he travel directly to Silverwater jail at 10am on Saturday.
This ensured Obeid - who turns 78 on Monday - didn't pass through Surry Hills police station, with Justice Fullerton expressing concern about systems there for avoiding coronavirus transmission.
Premier Dominic Perrottet is outraged over Obeid's actions and the $30 million should be returned to the government's coffers.
"He should be behind bars. It's good to see," he said.
"It should send a signal to everybody else that when you're in public life you do not act corruptly."
The Crime Commission has announced it will reopen its investigation into the confiscation of the proceeds of crime acquired by the Obeid family.
"Sure there's a jail sentence but ultimately this was $30 million that was ripped off the taxpayers of NSW and we want to get it back," Mr Perrottet said.
The judge earlier advised Obeid's lawyer that if he was unsuccessful in securing bail the consequences "will present an obvious obstacle filing a further application".
Obeid's former ministerial colleague Ian Macdonald, 72, was also jailed on Thursday for at least five years and three months, while his son Moses Obeid was jailed for at least three years.
Obeid's 52-year-old son and Macdonald were taken into custody. The court was told they also intended to appeal and would be seeking bail.
Some 83 per cent of current NSW prison inmates had received their first COVID-19 vaccination, while 65.6 per cent were fully vaccinated, according to Corrective Services NSW.
In July the judge found all three guilty of conspiring for Macdonald to engage in misconduct as a minister between 2007 and 2009.
The then-resources minister was found to have breached his duties by providing confidential information to the Obeids over a coal exploration licence.
In jailing the trio, Justice Fullerton found the objective seriousness of the conspiracy "was one of the highest order".
She said Obeid and his son were aware of Macdonald's actions in establishing and granting the licence over the family's property at Mount Penny, in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee, for the family's financial benefit.
No financial or other benefit has been shown to have accrued to Macdonald for his agreement to wilfully breach his ministerial duties and obligations.
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