tip off

Every post a winner for Fahour’s guests at Games

After spending a few years as a mouthpiece for Sydney investment bankers, The Australian Financial Review’s Rear Window column has been reinvigorated under the leadership of former Joe Hockey staffer Joe Aston. Aston’s latest target is Crikey favourite Ahmed Fahour, with Rear Window launching a freedom of information request regarding Fahour’s Olympic Games junket.

Sadly for Aston, and the millions of Australian taxpayers who fund Australia Post, the request was knocked back by Australia Post. Fortunately, your correspondent doesn’t bother with freedom of information requests. Instead, we went straight to the source, with Olympic guests of Australia Post telling Crikey that Fahour’s hospitality was extraordinary.

Australia Post took dozens of its largest clients and their partners to London (clients travelled in the first or second week of the Games) with the largesse including business-class airfares, accommodation at five-star hotels (upwards of £400 per night per room), spending money and of course tickets to some of the best events our taxpayer dollars could buy, including the opening and closing ceremonies.

Some of the guests included large Australia Post clients such as Deals Direct and Ozsale, as well as AFL boss Andrew Demetriou (we couldn’t work out why he was invited either). Exactly why millions of dollars of public money was spent by Fahour on such entertainment remains a mystery, especially since most clients have no choice but to use Australia Post’s eParcel service (it’s the only service that delivers to many rural parts of Australia). Perhaps if Australia Post didn’t have a monopoly, there would be a more legitimate reason to taxpayer funds entertain clients.

As Crikey reported in July, Australia Post appeared to justify its lavish spending on the basis that part of its cost was offset by issuing gold medal stamps after the Games. Given that Australia Post is owned by the government, and the very same government bankrolls the Olympic team, one suspects the stamps would have been able to be produced regardless of the sponsorship.

Fahour is, however, no stranger to controversy, with the Australia Post CEO being paid $2.9 million in 2011 to head the monopoly mail provider — about 120 times what the United States Postmaster General receives (this was despite Australia Post handling around 3% of the volume of its American equivalent). In fact, the former banker is one of Australia’s top 100 paid CEOs, receiving higher remuneration than the likes of Myer’s Bernie Brookes and JB Hi-Fi’s Terry Smart in 2010/11.

But in fairness to Fahour, he had grown accustomed to a burgeoning pay cheque. When the banker was lured by NAB back in 2004, the Latrobe University graduate received a $13.5 million “sign on” bonus to join NAB after leaving CitiBank. While Fahour was a senior executive, his younger brother, Moustafa, happened to be hired by the bank in a well-paid senior role.

After being anointed as a possible CEO, Fahour departed the bank suddenly in 2008. That was not long after a curious transaction occurred, which involved Fahour selling $3.2 million worth of NAB shares only one week before the NAB undertook a highly discounted equity raising.

We wish Aston the best of luck with his freedom of information requests, but fear that Fahour isn’t one to trifle with pesky shareholders or taxpayers.

6
  • 1
    secondsoprano
    Posted Monday, 3 September 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    120 times?? Are you sure? Perhaps you mean 120% (given that a quick goodle search suggests that the USPG received about $800K in 2009)

  • 2
    michael r james
    Posted Monday, 3 September 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    The Australia Post CEO would be receiving 3.6 times (or 362%) what the USPG gets (if secondsoprano’s figure is correct).

  • 3
    David Symons
    Posted Monday, 3 September 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The official salary of the USPG is apparently $245k

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_112283.html

    Therefore - our boy gets about 12x the USPG. Not 120x.

  • 4
    John Bennetts
    Posted Monday, 3 September 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Of course, the simple and only reason why Australia Post’s CEO acted like a brat on the loose with other peoples’ money was that he could do so.

    In this present world where a CEO is able to shut down the national airline on a whim, it’s not surprising that another plays the Olympic game with such vigour.

    It takes the hide of a rhino to do some jobs.

  • 5
    dunph
    Posted Tuesday, 4 September 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Ahmed Fahour, or “Armoured Car” as he was nicknamed at the NAB, flew First Class on QF9 to London the week before the opening ceremony; his PA was also in attendance - so no back-of-the-bus treatment for these stamp lickers!

  • 6
    Adam Schwab
    Posted Saturday, 8 September 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Must have been a sub-editing issue, the original para read:

    Fahour is however, no stranger to controversy, with the Australia Post CEO being paid $2.9 million in 2011 to head up the monopoly mail provider - around ten times what the United States Postmaster General receives (this was despite Australia Post handling around three percent of the volume of its American equivalent). In fact the former banker is one of Australia’s top 100 paid CEOs, receiving high remuneration than the likes of Myer’s Bernie Brookes, or JB HiFi’s Terry Smart in 2010/11.

Womens Agenda

loading...

Smart Company

loading...

StartupSmart

loading...

Property Observer

loading...