A son of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has admitted encouraging an accountant to lie about his family's mining interests and giving inaccurate evidence to a corruption inquiry, but has denied being involved in a "sham".
During a day of marathon questioning at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Wednesday, only Paul Obeid made it into the witness box - though three of his brothers were also due to give evidence.
It is also investigating whether Eddie Obeid, also a former state Labor minister, and his family gained substantial financial benefit from inside information about the process.
Counsel assisting the commissioner, Geoffrey Watson SC, told the witness his family had purchased land in the Bylong Valley just before it was opened up for coal exploration.
Mr Watson said Paul Obeid was "part of a deal" with Mr Macdonald to create a mining tenement in the region, which he denied.
"That sounds like a Hans Christian Andersen novel," Mr Obeid said.
"What did you do to tell anybody in the public that a mining minister, a friend of your father, had created a mining tenement that increased the value of your property four-fold?" Mr Watson asked.
Mr Obeid responded with a question of his own: "Why did I need to tell anybody?"
At one point a visibly frustrated Mr Ipp adjourned the inquiry, telling Mr Obeid's counsel Graham Turnbull that proceedings would resume after Mr Turnbull had a word with his client about interrupting the commissioner.
But the commissioner and the witness found themselves in agreement after Mr Obeid struggled to decipher years-old ledgers detailing transactions made by and for members of his family.
"It sounds like a sham, doesn't it," Mr Watson said of one loan noted in the ledgers.
"Oh, I wouldn't call it a sham," Mr Obeid said.
"It certainly looks like a shambles to me," Mr Ipp weighed in.
Mr Obeid responded, "I can't disagree with that."
Mr Obeid later said he and "the boys" did not initially disclose their interests in coal mining when they dealt with mining firm Cascade Coal because after years of being "relentlessly pursued" by the media, the Obeids valued their privacy.
In a private interview with Mr Watson in August last year he said Cascade was "certainly" aware of the Obeid link, but on Wednesday he said he "can't stand by that", conceding the Obeids were more coy in their early dealings with the firm.
"We decided to play a bit of a game of chess," he said.
"(The media) agenda is to cause us harm. We've learned, over many years, why stick your head out to get slapped."
He also admitted encouraging an accountant, John Campo, to lie to the Sydney Morning Herald, though he did not back Mr Watson's assertion that the lies were designed to conceal further the family's mining interests.
"I call them little white lies, which are trivial untruths," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday he told the commission he could not explain how confidential maps of the area around Bylong Valley came to be in his office.
Mr Ipp says he will deliver findings in July and give "urgent" advice within two weeks to the NSW government about how it should amend the state's mining laws.
The inquiry continues on Thursday and Mr Macdonald is scheduled to appear on Monday.