National News

NSW court hears of 'outrageous' Iraq bribe

The father of notorious ISIS recruit Mohamed Elomar was allegedly involved in a plot to send a million-dollar bribe to Iraq in an effort to secure "first chance" at lucrative building projects.

The late terrorist's father Mamdouh Elomar, 62, his brother Ibrahim Elomar, 60, and businessman John Jousif, 46, faced a committal hearing in Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday on charges of conspiring to bribe a foreign official.

The three men are fighting the charges.

Barrister Lincoln Crowley, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth DPP, told the court the bribery plot was uncovered thanks to phone taps that were set up as part of an apparently unrelated federal investigation.

It's alleged the bribe was paid to help cement a preferred partner arrangement between Sydney-based construction firm Lifese and an Iraqi government-linked company.

"Eventually an invitation was issued for Lifese to come and meet with various officials over in Iraq and the meetings were attended by directors of the company," Mr Crowley said.

Following a series of meetings in 2014, Mr Crowley said a "partnership contract" was proposed that would position Lifese to be the preferred bidder on projects including a waste management facility in Baghdad and a pre-cast concrete facility.

But the proposed partnership agreement hinged on a $1 million payment - a sum the court heard was described in intercepted phone calls between the accused men as "outrageous, like the mafia".

However, it is alleged the Elomars and Jousif arranged to wire the money through to a contact in Iraq in three separate payments.

Greg James QC, appearing for the Elomar brothers, told the court the prosecution could not point to any particular official or officials said to have been bribed and the case should not proceed to trial.

"If you can't tell who it was that was said to be influenced, in what role that person was, whether they were a real human being or a corporation, whether they had particular duties and if so, the extent of those duties, and if they could or could not influence such role or effect as they might otherwise have had, then you're unable to distinguish between the properly obtaining of business and the illegitimate obtaining of business under the legislation," the former NSW Supreme Court judge told the court.

"My clients are not the Australian Wheat Board, or the Reserve Bank."

Magistrate Geoff Bradd is expected to give his decision on whether the Elomars and Jousif should face trial on Thursday.

© AAP 2016

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