New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell
New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell

Barry O'Farrell denies being buttered up at ICAC

BARRY O'Farrell has denied allegations the boss of the water company at the centre of a corruption inquiry tried to "butter" him up with a $3000 bottle of vintage wine.

Giving evidence before the ICAC today, the NSW Premier said he did not recall phoning Australian Water Holdings chief Nick Di Girolamo to thank him for a bottle of Penfolds Grange which, according to a courier receipt, was delivered to his Roseville home shortly before the Easter weekend in 2011.

An AWA credit card expenses sheet before the commission includes an entry of $2979.99 with the reference "gift to Barry O'Farrell &

wife".

Claiming to have no memory of the gift, Mr O'Farrell insisted that had he received a bottle of 1959 Penfolds, "I do think I'd know about it".

Earlier, Australian Water Holdings boss Nick Di Girolamo told the commission he had sent the bottle of Penfolds Grange, which was produced the year Mr O'Farrell was born, to congratulate him on the Colation's 2011 election victory.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the gift was "to sincerely congratulate him at finally getting into office after 16 long winters in opposition".

Counsel Assisting Geoffrey Watson suggested the gift was in fact intended to influence a newly elected premier.

Mr O'Farrell had not been expected to front the inquiry, which is investigating the awarding of lucrative government contracts to the Obeid-linked company, but on Monday Mr Watson said it had become "necessary" for the premier to be called.

The inquiry continues.


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