Coal exploration licence benefited Macdonald's 'mates'

FORMER NSW resources minister Ian Macdonald granted a coal exploration licence to benefit his mining "mates", the state's corruption watchdog has found.

Criminal charges have been recommended against the former Labor MP and Doyles Creek Mining directors John Maitland, Craig Ransley, Andrew Poole and Michael Chester.

Handing down its report in NSW Parliament on Friday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption alleged Mr Macdonald had engaged in corrupt conduct by acting contrary to his duty as a minister of the Crown in granting Doyles Creek Mining a coal exploration licence for the purpose of benefiting the company's chairman, Mr Maitland.

It was alleged that but for his friendship with his longstanding union colleagues, Mr Macdonald would not have made the grants.

The commission said that Mr Maitland originally outlaid approximately $165,000 to acquire his shares in DCM. After being listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in early 2010, shares in DCM were valued at around $100 million.

The ICAC found that overall, the original shareholders in DCM, whose total initial investment was $1.53 million, had made or stood to make a total of $84.74 million.

It was recommended the DPP consider charges of misconduct in a public office for Mr Macdonald and charges of making false statements to the Department of Primary Industries for Mr Maitland and his colleagues.

The report was released just weeks after the ICAC found Mr Macdonald had engaged in corrupt conduct by awarding a coal exploration licence that would significantly benefit the family of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

He was also found to have accepted the services of a prostitute in exchange for arranging a meeting between businessman Ron Medich and NSW energy executives.