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A NSW corruption watchdog report has made no findings against federal Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos.
The long-awaited report from Independent Commission Against Corruption into water infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings found three former NSW Labor ministers Tony Kelly, Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi, did engage in serious corrupt conduct.
Senator Sinodinos was the first scalp in the ICAC investigations into the matter.
The NSW senator stood aside as assistant treasurer in March 2014, following questions over his time as chairman of AWH, but was reinstated 18 months later amid expectations he would be cleared.
The ICAC report released on Thursday mentions Senator Sinodinos 24 times, but makes no specific recommendations about him.
Senator Sinodinos has responded to the report, noting there was no “adverse findings or commentary” against him.
“This brings to an end a long and comprehensive process,” he said in a statement.
“I thank my family and colleagues for their support throughout.”
Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz was critical of ICAC, accusing the counsel assisting of making” all sorts of hyperbolic claims” seized on by the media, which then took several years to be overcome.
“This approach of seeking to inflict reputational damage well ahead of reaching any findings is sadly symptomatic of the NSW ICAC,” he said in a statement.
The AWH board resolved in January 2011 to give Senator Sinodinos a five per cent equity share in AWH and a 2.5 per cent equity share bonus should AWH successfully negotiate a public private partnership with the NSW Government.
Senator Sinodinos had not revealed he stood to make a financial gain from a deal in his discussions with Greg Pearce, the then NSW finance minister, or Peter McConnell who was then NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell‘s chief of staff.
Senator Sinodinos told the ICAC inquiry it never occurred to him that he needed to make such a disclosure because it was not relevant to whether the proposal had merit.
“When speaking with Mr Pearce and Mr McConnell, Mr Sinodinos was acting in his capacity as chairman of AWH,” the report said.
“He was not a public official and was under no legal obligation to disclose to them that he stood to gain financially from a favourable decision.”