Only a fortnight after failing in their last-ditch attempt to have their committal hearing delayed, former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid and his son Moses have waived their right to a committal hearing.
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Eddie and Moses Obeid and former mining minister Ian Macdonald have been charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office over a $30 million coal deal involving the family's rural property at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee.
The three-week hearing, which was due to start on May 29, was for a magistrate to determine whether there was enough evidence for the matter to go to trial.
The Obeids have waived their right to have a committal and to test the evidence of the 19 witnesses who were to be called.
Eddie Obeid is serving a jail sentence for misconduct in public office, while Macdonald will be sentenced on Friday over a separate coal deal.
Earlier this month, lawyers for Moses and Eddie Obeid argued that the committal should be delayed for at least three months as their new solicitor Abbas Soukie had not had time to read the brief of evidence nor to hire a barrister.
In rejecting the Obeids' application, Supreme Court Justice Helen Wilson noted that the May 29 date had been set down in December last year and the committal hearing had been previously delayed twice in past years, once because of Eddie Obeid's alleged ill health.
She also pointed out that the Obeids had been issued with court attendance notices for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office on July 17, 2015, and that "the accused men" had a very good understanding of the case against them.
On January 11, the Obeids hired Mr Soukie after firing their previous solicitors.
Justice Wilson was told that the alleged incompetence of their previous solicitors was one of the appeal grounds in the forthcoming appeal by Eddie Obeid, who is serving a maximum five-year jail sentence after he was convicted in June last year of misconduct in public office over his secret business dealings at Circular Quay.
Justice Wilson was told that, at the end of March, magistrate Vivien Swain, who was to hear the committal hearing, rejected their application to delay their committal, saying that five months was sufficient time for their new solicitor to prepare and to find a barrister.
Peter Neil, SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, criticised the Obeids for expending more effort in having the matter delayed than preparing for the committal.
In the numerous legal proceedings involving Eddie Obeid, there was a "certain pattern and a certain flavour" to them, he said.
In this instance, the Obeids have been focusing "on anything but preparing for their committal", said Mr Neil, who also noted that it was not in dispute that "Edward Obeid is no stranger to litigation" nor that the Obeids had the resources to fund lawyers.
The application for a waiver committal will be heard by Ms Swain on Tuesday.
On May 31, Eddie Obeid, and three of his five sons - Paul, Eddie jnr and Moses - have a mention in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.
Last year the family lost their civil law suit against the Independent Commission Against Corruption and a number of that body's staff. The Obeids were ordered to pay costs, which are estimated to be $5 million.
The four Obeids are appealing against one aspect of the case involving the ICAC's forensic accountant Grant Lockley.
On June 5, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal will hear Eddie Obeid's appeal against his conviction for misconduct in public office for which he was jailed for a maximum of five years.
A hearing date is yet to be fixed for Moses Obeid and his associate Rocco Triulcio, who have been charged over giving false evidence to the ICAC. Their matter will return to court on June 13.
Macdonald will learn on Friday whether he is to be jailed, after being found guilty of two counts of misconduct in public office after he granted a mining licence to former union boss John Maitland, who was found guilty of being an accessory.
This article was originally published on the smh.com.au
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