The son of the ALP kingpin Eddie Obeid told a car dealer and close friend that he needed to secure a top-of-the-line Honda CRV for the former NSW treasurer Eric Roozendaal because he ''had done a few favours for dad'', a corruption inquiry has heard.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption was also told that Obeid Corporation paid $10,800 towards the $44,000 purchase, which had the effect of giving Mr Roozendaal a sweetheart deal on the car.
''It does seem plain,'' counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said, ''that Mr Roozendaal received a kind of gift from Moses Obeid, yet Mr Roozendaal appears not to have recorded the gift on the parliamentary register.
''Mr Obeid and his family are very active businessmen, involved in a number of different enterprises, many of which could benefit from different types of decisions that a minister might make.''
Thursday marked the opening of a five-month inquiry into some of the most senior cabinet ministers in the former state government. It will focus not only on allegations concerning Mr Roozendaal's purchase in 2007 but also accusations that coal licences worth millions of dollars were issued corruptly.
For the next week the inquiry would focus solely on the ''bizarre'' car purchase and on the involvement of the Obeid family and its associates in the transaction, said the Commissioner, David Ipp, QC.
The wider investigation into the coal deals, which will also focus on the Obeid family and on the disgraced former resources minister, Ian Macdonald, will not begin until later this month and will run at least until March.
A panel beater and car dealer, Peter Fitzhenry, who said he once considered himself best friends with Eddie Obeid's son Moses, told the inquiry of a request he received from Moses in 2007 to obtain a ''top-of-the-range'' Honda CRV.
''He said to me that the car was to be bought for Eric because Eric had done a few favours for dad,'' Mr Fitzhenry said.
The commission was shown numerous diary entries by Mr Fitzhenry that noted the request and named Mr Roozendaal and his wife, Amanda.
''Financial benefits like the one here can be provided as an inducement for corrupt conduct, or as a reward for corrupt conduct,'' Mr Watson said. ''Gifts and favours usually require reciprocation.''
The car was initially bought in the name of Nata Re, the sister of other Obeid family friends, the brothers Rocco and Rosario Triulcio. It also passed through the hands of another car dealer, Keith Goodman.
Earlier, Mr Watson said that ''to be fair'', Moses Obeid had explained that the car deal was to resolve a ''nasty dispute'' between Rocco Triulcio and Mr Fitzhenry.
''Part of the purpose of this public inquiry will be to attempt to determine whether or not that innocent explanation should be accepted,'' Mr Watson said.
''I regret to say that the evidence suggests that it cannot.
''There is only one rational explanation: the course of events, and especially the multiple handling of the ownership of the car, is only consistent with a deliberate attempt to disguise aspects of the deal.
''There are other features of these transactions, which I will not elaborate upon now, which are even more disturbing.''