Tripodi denies trying to dig his way “out of a hole”

FORMER NSW Ports Minister Joe Tripodi has denied trying to dig his way "out of a hole" by clarifying his dealings with Eddie Obeid over controversial Sydney retail leases.

Last week, one of Mr Tripodi's former senior staff told the NSW corruption watchdog she remembered her boss telling her in 2006 that Mr Obeid had an interest in three businesses at Circular Quay.

Mr Tripodi had previously denied having any knowledge of an Obeid link.

The former Labor MP, who has since been suspended from the Labor Party, was voluntarily recalled to give evidence in Wednesday.

He told the commission he had remembered the conversation in question but insisted that when he said "interest" he did not mean pecuniary interest but that Mr Obeid was simply interested in Circular Quay in general.

Assistant Commissioner Anthony Whealy suggested Mr Tripodi's altered evidence was a bit of a "long shot".

Outside the inquiry, Mr Tripodi refused to be drawn on what may have sparked his memory.

Mr Obeid is back before the ICAC over allegations he used his influence to rig the tender process for prime retail leases Circular Quay.

The latest inquiry - the second Mr Obeid has faced in twelve months - is the product of three separate investigations into the State Treasury, Department of Water and Energy and NSW Maritime Services.

Counsel assisting the commission Ian Temby has alleged that Mr Obeid had blurred the lines between being an MP and a lobbyist.

He said the former minister had engaged in "lobbying of an unusual kind" and misused his position as a senior Labor figure to influence Mr Joe Tripodi and his fellow Labor MPs Carl Scully, Eric Roozendaal and Michael Costa to the point where tenders for leases sold between 2000 and 2011 were not subject to a competitive process.

The inquiry, which is expected to take months, continues in Sydney.



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