Praise for Obeid Jr as salary cap probe kicks in
PARRAMATTA players have labelled Eddie Obeid Jr “a good guy” as the NRL investigates his involvement in a series of third- party deals which, allegedly off the books, might total more than $ 1 million.
The NRL yesterday began investigating claims Obeid Jr, the son of former Labor MP Eddie Obeid, was involved in undisclosed business dealings involving star Eels players Chris Sandow, Darcy Lussick and Will Hopoate.
In August last year, it was revealed prop Lussick had bought a $ 600,000 apartment from members of the Obeid family – a purchase price $ 30,000 lower than what the Obeid’s company had paid for it only months earlier.
The investigation also explained how Sandow’s four- year deal, worth more than $ 2 million, also included a third- party agreement for $ 50,000 which, while not identifying Obeid Jr as the benefactor, was to be financed by the passionate Eels supporter.
Fresh allegations have also emerged this week alleging Obeid Jr – during the reign of former Eels chairman Roy Spagnolo – organised for Sandow’s lucrative contract to be increased by as much as $ 200,000 annually and Hopoate receiving up to $ 100,000 extra.
It’s also suggested Spagnolo, who has since been found unfit to run a registered club, directed a number of thirdparty player payments, including cash owed to star Jarryd Hayne, into front companies created for his own property development deals.
While there is no suggestion players knowingly breached the cap, it is alleged that during Spagnolo’s time in power, undisclosed payments could have exceeded $ 1 million.
In a statement yesterday, NRL head of integrity Nick Weeks said salary cap auditors would investigate. “The salary cap is one of the main reasons we have the closest sporting competition in Australia,” Weeks said. “We have already shown that we are prepared to take a hard line against breaches and these allegations will be investigated.”
Asked about the matter yesterday, Lussick replied: “This got brought up last year and, from what it said in the paper … the NRL were going to investigate. I haven’t heard anything from it. They can investigate it all they want.
“Eddie is a family friend of myself, my brother and my dad. He’s a family man, a businessman and I’ve got all the time in the world for Eddie.”
The Townsville Bulletin is not suggesting Obeid Jr has done anything wrong even if the NRL investigation establishes he was making unregistered third- party payments. It is up to all clubs to declare third- party payments.
PARRA POWERBROKER: Former boss Roy Spagnolo.