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NZers named in mine shares secret deal

14:20 Thu Dec 6 2012

Two high-profile New Zealand businessmen have been named among a group of investors dragged into the sidelines of a New South Wales corruption inquiry.

Sir Ron Brierley and Neville Crichton, who was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year's Queen's Birthday honours, are reported to have been in a group of wealthy businessmen who invested $A28 million in Cascade Coal in 2010.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Sydney is examining a minister's decision in the former state Labor government to issue mining exploration licences in the Bylong Valley and how another former Labor minister, party powerbroker Eddie Obeid, gained from it.

The Australian newspaper on Thursday reports that the $A28m raised through Lost Ark Nominees from the group of businessmen - all residents of Sydney's posh eastern suburbs - "ended up in the coffers" of the Obeid family company.

"There is no suggestion any of the investors knew the money turned over to buy shares in Cascade Coal would find its way to the Obeid family," the newspaper said.

It had been told the investors were explicitly told the money wouldn't be going to the Obeids.

Few of the investors were prepared to comment on or off the record, The Australian said.

"It's none of your f***ing business where I invest my money," Mr Crichton, a renowned yachtsman who owns car dealerships on both sides of the Tasman, told the Sydney Morning Herald when asked about the Cascade Coal investment.

The Herald said the $A28m was used to buy out a secret holding of the Obeids a day before another group, White Energy, announced it would buy Cascade for $A500m.

The latter deal eventually fell over but it has been alleged in the ICAC inquiry that the Obeids stood to make millions of dollars from it.