The Supreme Court has overturned findings of corruption against RAMS Home Loans founder John Kinghorn but upheld those against four associates.
The Supreme Court has overturned findings of corruption against RAMS Home Loans founder John Kinghorn but has upheld those against four associates, including mining magnate Travers Duncan.
The court quashed the ICAC’s corruption findings against businessman John Kinghorn over his involvement a mining venture linked to disgraced Labor figure Eddie Obeid.
But it has upheld the watchdog’s findings against four of his associates, including Mr Duncan.
The RAMS Home Loans founder, as well as Duncan and their associates John McGuigan, Richard Poole and John Atkinson, launched legal action against the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following its July 2013 findings of corrupt conduct.
The ICAC found former mining minister Ian Macdonald had rigged a 2008 tender process to grant a coal licence over land at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley, which was owned by former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.
It enabled the Obeid family to make $30 million, with the prospect of pocketing at least $70 million more.
Kinghorn, Duncan, Poole, McGuigan and Atkinson were all involved with Cascade Coal, which took over the tenement in 2009.
The ICAC found they acted corruptly by withholding information about the Obeid family’s link to the tenement when they were on the verge of a $500 million dollar takeover by White Energy.
The five men challenged the findings on a number of grounds, including that they had been denied natural justice and had not acted corruptly as the Obeid family’s involvement in the tenement was in the public domain by May 2010.
In handing down his judgment on Tuesday, Justice Robert McDougall dismissed Duncan, McGuigan, Poole and Atkinson’s claims against ICAC.
But he upheld Kinghorn’s claim, saying “the findings made against him did not support the conclusion that his conduct could involve a criminal offence”.
“Thus, an essential jurisdictional fact, necessary to exist before there can be a finding of corrupt conduct, is lacking.”
He ordered the ICAC to pay Kinghorn’s costs.