Police are investigating a suspicious fire at the Bellevue function centre at Bankstown, pictured here in 2015. Photo: Edwina PicklesDetectives continue to investigate the cause of a suspicious fire at a Bankstown function centre, which is linked to the Obeid family.
It is the second fire at the Bellevue Function Centre, on Restwell Street, in 18 months.
The building that houses the function centre is owned by company Redpoc, whose directors are Eddie Obeid’s longtime friend and former business partner Wally Wehbe, and Paul Obeid, the son of the corrupt former Labor minister.
The building is listed as Redpoc’s “principal place of business” on company documents.
A fire alarm went off after 4am on Boxing Day and firefighters quickly put out the blaze.
A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesperson said the fire started on the second floor, near the function centre’s office.
The building, which was unoccupied, was filled with smoke, and had widespread water damage from the fire sprinklers.
“We did hand it over to police as a suspicious fire,” the spokesperson said.
NSW Police said investigations into the cause of the fire continued on Tuesday.
Early one morning in June 2015, an unknown man forced entry to the building through a back door and a fire started soon afterwards.
It was extinguished by the sprinkler system by the time emergency services arrived but there was damage to the foyer of the centre, which had been recently renovated.
Mr Wehbe was one of 55 people to provide a character reference for Eddie Obeid before he was jailed for misconduct in public office over his family’s secret business dealings at Circular Quay.
Writing on behalf of the n Lebanese Christian Foundation, Mr Wehbe said: “our member [sic] and executive have always found Mr Obeid to be open, honest, generous and genuine”.
The ALCF was founded by Obeid in 1986.
Justice Robert Beech-Jones this month sentenced Eddie Obeid to a maximum five years’ jail with a non-parole period of three years.
The Bellevue function centre is described on its website as being “famed for its glamorous Middle Eastern hospitality, elegant decor, and delicious Lebanese and European cuisine”.
Fairfax Media has contacted the function centre and Mr Wahbe’s office for comment.