The business crims and characters who made our year
While global stock markets gleefully rebounded and central banks across the world decided whether to taper, spare a thought for those forgotten business stars who made the business pages slightly more interesting during 2013 …
Black Letter Lawyer of the Year
Lord Denning might not have approved, but former Baker McKenzie Australia boss John McGuigan was revealed to be quite the raconteur at a January Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing. While lawyers are traditionally known for the discretion, McGuigan did his bit to rid the profession of such a horrid reputation, with secret phone taps revealing McGuigan had described White Energy independent director Graham Cubbin as a “silly prick” who has got himself a “fucking case of dripply cock”.
Al Capone Award for the Denial of the Year
To Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Rajoy gave a furious denial when answering corruption allegations, noting that “everything that has been said about me and my colleagues in the party is untrue, except for some things that have been published by some media outlets”. Which appears to mean that Rajoy is completely innocent, other than of the crimes he may have committed.
Shaun Greenhalgh Award for the Forger of the Year
To Melbourne man Wayne Hayden, who in order to reduce his sentence for deception-related offences (which included forgery) thought it wise to forge a character reference. The action unfortunately indicated an apparent lack of remorse and Hayden’s sentence promptly increased by four months.
King Solomon Award for Upholding Justice
To Australia’s finest criminal prosecutors, who felt it appropriate that Guy Jarvis (a drug addict with suspected mental problems), who allegedly stole $293, ought to be sentenced to seven years’ jail. Meanwhile, David Coe, a former partner at law form Mallesons who was once on the BRW Rich list and who allegedly diverted $104 million from Allco shareholders to a trust controlled by himself and other Allco insiders, was never charged with an offence. After his death in January 2013, Coe was eulogised by the financial press, with former Wallaby-turned-investment banker Simon Poidevin noting that “David Coe defined to all of us how you should live life”.
Dean Lukin Award for Part-Time Fisherman/Part-Time Investor of the Year
To Henricus Petrus Indisrie, better known as “Ric the Fish”. The Fish is the owner of Perth Select Seafoods and appears to be a fairly astute investor after purchasing a $300,000 stake in junior miner Sirius Resources last July. After Sirius discovered a world-class nickel copper deposit at Fraser Ridge, its share price leapt, and Ric the Fish’s stake grew to be worth more than $23 million in only eight months. That’s a lot of tuna.
Alan Bond Memorial Award for Shareholders’ Friend of the Year
To QBE Insurance, which in its wisdom thought it apt to pay former CEO Frank O’Halloran a termination payment of $2.34 million. O’Halloran was once hailed as a king among men at the insurer, which he turned from a minnow into one of the world’s largest. Sadly for QBE shareholders, integration wasn’t Frank’s strong point, with the company using eight different payroll systems. QBE’s share price has slumped by more than 70% shortly after O’Halloran’s departure. While the QBE board was paying Frank an almighty golden handshake for a job well done, it was also telling those same shareholders that it was revising its dividend policy and maintaining a lower payout ratio, based on fallen profitability.
Patty Hearst Award for Victim of the Year
To the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who appears to be the tragic victim of a long-running family feud. Rinehart’s lawyer, Noel Hutley SC, told the New South Wales Supreme Court that Rinehart was harmed by the legal action again two of her four children as “she is the person who if she wanted to get out and retire from the business or turn her money to philanthropy”. The action that harmed Rinehart was arguably caused by Rinehart herself refusing to allow her children access to the trust left to them by their grandfather (with a little help from PwC).
Lonergan Edwards Award for the Expert of the Year
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