LIBERAL senator Arthur Sinodinos, already in strife over his involvement in a company with alleged links to embattled Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, last night apologised ''unreservedly'' to Federal Parliament for failing to declare interests in several other companies.
Mr Sinodinos blamed an ''innocent oversight'' for failing to declare his directorship of start-up healthcare company Move2Live Pty Ltd, which he said had not traded and from which he had now resigned.
The senator also failed to record his interest in Firestick ICT Pty Ltd, which provided IT services to a non-for-profit company that helps indigenous people finding employment.
A fellow director in Move2Live is Santo Santoro, a minister in the Howard government who resigned in disgrace over his failure to properly declare his shareholdings. Mr Santoro was also a director of Australian Water Holding's Queensland subsidiary. Mr Sinodinos was also a director was a director of AWH.
Mr Sinodinos said that although it was well known he was president of the NSW Liberal Party until December 2012, he should have disclosed his directorship of three entities related to the party.
He said that his amendments to his statement of registrable interest was prompted by an inquiry from a journalist.
''By making a full breast of this,'' he said he hoped it would serve as a warning for other politicians to be more careful and that in the future he would be ''much more punctilious and rigorous''.
In the rest of his statement Mr Sinodinos also tried to distance himself from the corruption scandal which is engulfing the NSW Labor party. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard that Mr Obeid, a former NSW minister, and his family, made $30 million from an allegedly corrupt government coal licence tender.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2011, Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH, which ICAC has heard is an Obeid-related company.
In early 2012 the NSW Coalition government awarded AWH a 25-year water infrastructure deal without any tenders. Corporate records show that Mr Sinodinos was a director of AWH from November 2008 until November 2011. On Wednesday, apparently to distance himself from AWH, the senator announced he would forgo his 5 per cent shareholding to which he was entitled following his time as chairman, worth up to $3.75 million.
These shares were held on his behalf in a ''gentleman's agreement'' by AWH boss and major shareholder Nick di Girolamo, who the Herald last year revealed was a close friend of the Obeid family.
Mr Sinodinos, who is the shadow parliamentary secretary to the federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, denied last night he had at any time asked that the shares ''be held secretly on my behalf''.
He said he was ''shocked and disappointed'' to discover AWH was ''financially linked to the Obeid family''.
He said that he became aware that Mr Obeid's youngest son Eddie jnr was employed by AWH after he himself joined. ''I had no reason to regard his presence in the company as signifying some greater involvement by the Obeid family in AWH.''
AWH made a $30,000 donation to the NSW Liberals while Mr Sinodinos was the state party treasurer but last night he said he did not recollect the donations being discussed at a board level.
with Judith Ireland