Serious questions remain about Keating’s piggery millions and this week’s Four Corners expose will hopefully force everyone to answer some of the key questions. This transcript of the original 60 Minutes masterpiece by Paul Lyneham is a salient reminder of just how dodgy the piggery dealings were.

Tonight, we’re setting aside our advertised program for a special edition of 60 Minutes – an investigation into Paul Keating’s business dealings as Treasurer, Prime Minister and now private citizen. An investigation we’ve been involved with for many months and completed late this week. Paul Keating stands accused tonight of conduct that demands a full judicial inquiry. From his first involvement in his controversial piggeries venture through to its treacherous finale – and the key players – around the world. What has resulted is this story, the full and compelling account of The Keating Millions.

PART ONE

Lyneham Paul Keating the politician was always a complex and interesting man — a man of vision, style, charm and courage. But to many Australians his scornful arrogance and sharp tongue showed a dark side. Tonight we report from those shadows with a shameful tale of Keating’s deceit and betrayal, as he concealed from the Australian public how his piggery venture made him a multimillionaire.

Now it’s not a crime for politicians to be in business. But it is against all the rules to lie about the extent of that interest, to use your high office and political power to further that interest, and to hide your profits with absolutely misleading financial statements.

This is a complex story because Paul Keating made his business dealings complex to conceal them. It’s a story that unfolds in three parts – the set-up, the sting and the cover-up. A story that ends with Paul Keating becoming a very rich man.

CONSTANTINIDIS: Paul would have taken away, external to what he had to provide for the business, in excess of $4 million.

LYNEHAM:: More than $4 million?

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: Is it your view that he has actually ripped you off?

CONSTANTINIDIS I think that’s quite ah – quite easy to form that conclusion.

LYNEHAM: Achilles Constantinidis, known to everyone as Al, was Keating’s partner in the piggery business. For a decade he’s remained silent about the extent of Keating’s true role in the piggeries. But now he no longer feels bound by the pledge of silence that he made.

CONSTANTINIDIS: I feel used and cheated, um.

LYNEHAM: And there must have been times when you just about choked on that pledge?

CONSTANTINIDIS Many a time, I’m only really breaking that silence because when it gets down to a personal level of ah power and threats I don’t take too kindly to them.

LYNEHAM: Keating met Al through their mutual friend, John Brown, the former Labor Minister. Al was Brown’s financial planner and junior partner in a meat wholesaling and piggery business called Brown and Hatton. Brown used to tell Keating all about it.

JOHN BROWN we used to sit and talk in the Parliament about what I did and what I didn’t do He we always took an active interest in what I did, he was just a good friend.

LYNEHAM: In May, 1991 with his piggery company burdened by debt, Brown bowed out. Renaming the company Euphron, treasurer Keating and Al bought in, each using 430,000 dollars of borrowed money, to become equal partners.

BROWN: He wanted something to do, he could see that here was a company with a big er cash flow and er it suited me to get out on the condition that if there was an upside profit that I’d share in it.

LYNEHAM: And have you given up hope of future profits?

BROWN: You know that I am the eternal optimist. I still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

BOB HAWKE IN PARLIAMENT: “I’m afraid that those opposite Mr Speaker are going to have to put up, as they had since 1983, with the most deadly combination since post war politics”

LYNEHAM: Around this time, Bob Hawke had welshed on his secret agreement to step aside to allow Paul Keating to become Prime Minister.

HAWKE: If I had to have a fight, then I will enter the fight with the necessary determination and relish which is required to win it.

LYNEHAM: For Keating it was all or nothing. He would either become PM or quit politics. For he had another ambition and time was running out. In the book “Keating, The Inside Story”, his biographer, John Edwards, says Keating wanted the freedom that came with serious wealth, the freedom enjoyed by men like Robert Holmes a Court and his close friend, Warren Anderson.

Says Edwards: “Keating knew that if he now went for great wealth he would have to spend his forties and fifties working single-mindedly to acquire it.”

Of course, Al saw nothing of such grand ambitions. He simply saw a new friend and the prospect of mutual gain.

LYNEHAM TO AL: Mates?

CONSTANTINIDIS A Up until very recently I would never have questioned the term, yes.

LYNEHAM: Holiday together, families got to know each other?

CONSTANTINIDIS Families got to know each other um we holidayed on two occasions um in the true sense, yes.

LYNEHAM o you would say you were quite close.

CONSTANTINIDIS Yes.

LYNEHAM So the suburban businessman found himself in an exciting venture with a man who had been the world’s greatest Treasurer, a man who still dreamt of becoming Prime Minister of Australia.

But the business was a hard slog, for with Keating’s recession and high interest rates their new company’s debt would eventually blow out to more than 23 million dollars.

PETER BAUME IN PARLIAMENT “because of the potential for conflict of interest between the Prime Ministers private interests and his public duty, is the minister denying that the real debt, 05”

LYNEHAM By late 91 Keating had become Prime Minister and the Opposition was stepping up its attacks.

BAUME: “Why don’t you come clean, 05.?”

LYNEHAM suggesting that Keating has used his position and influence to boost his business interests. But as recently as July last year, on the ABC, he insisted he’d done nothing of the sort.

KEATING TO KERRY O’BRIEN “I develop it, I buy it on an arms length basis, I sell it on an arms length basis, and I dispose of it in a proper manner.”

LYNEHAM An arms’ length basis? Here in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, they tell a different story – of a politician skiting about his political clout to maximise his commercial advantage. The Danish pork producers were looking for a base in our region from which to crack the lucrative Japanese market. For Keating and Al teaming up with the Danes would be a godsend – new money, new technology and an export strategy that could turn their debt-ridden company from a dud into a goldmine.

DANE RENE MADELAIRE
LYNEHAM Businessman, Rene Madelaire recalls that Mr Armslength convinced them to buy into his piggeries by giving them some interesting reading. They were not dealing with a pig farmer – but a statesman.

MADELAIRE: And these clippings I think were used ah to convince us in Denmark, or to convince my board in Denmark at least that Keating was, was strong, basically..

LYNEHAM: So much for arms length. The Danes, suitably impressed, bought in. They agreed to put in 10 million dollars over time to get 50% of the company, leaving Paul Keating with 25% and Al with the remaining 25%. Keating now had a share of a business potentially worth many millions. Mind you, when it came to paying his share of the ongoing expenses, Al claims Keating was very arms length indeed.

LYNEHAM: So he what, he put in another 500 thousand at this point?

CONSTANTINIDIS: No, that was funds that ah I had put together through Euphron and Euphron paid it into Danpork.

LYNEHAM: But, but hang on you put all this money up here?

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: But he was still a 50/50 partner?

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: He had a good deal didn’t he?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Well that was part of our agreement.

LYNEHAM: The agreement was that Constantinidis would be looked after in the end. After all, if you couldn’t trust the Prime Minister, 05.. But what Al did not know, back in 93, was that Prime Minister Keating, fresh from his election victory, was planning to end the political attacks by cashing in and selling his share of the business. The set-up was complete. He was almost within reach of what his biographer would call ‘the freedom that wealth brings’.

But he had a problem. He had to find a discreet buyer otherwise everyone would know how much money he was about to make and the political dogs would really be baying. So next he had to pull off the sting.

In October 93, the Australian Prime Minister, flying home from an international conference, made a brief stop-over in Jakarta. Officially he was visiting his friend, President Soeharto.

The Prime Ministerial entourage was based at the Grand Hyatt, complete with political minders and travelling journalists. But what the media did not know was that two Australians, critical to Paul Keating’s piggery plans, had also flown into Jakarta that very day – Warren Anderson and John Benson.

Anderson, a wealthy property developer had been Keating’s friend for years. John Benson was a Mr Fixit business broker with special contacts in Indonesia. Their target would become this man, the leading Indonesian businessman, William Soeryadjaya. Like the Danes he would see the potential in Keating’s piggeries. And like the Danes see the potential too in dealing with a Head of Government.

This later memo, summarising the deal, is from The Soeryadjaya family’s Hong Kong office: “The Euphron investment was introduced to WSO ( that’s William Soeryadjaya) by the Prime Minister, Mr Keating.”

It goes on, The venture: “represents potential access to the PM as he has an option to buy Euphron shares at some point in the future.”

Five months after the PM’s visit to Indonesia, Soeryadjaya had agreed to buy his shares in the piggery business. So now the Danes owned 50%, Al 25%, and Keating’s 25% was now going to the Indonesians, a deal that Keating has lied about ever since.

KEATING TO KERRY O’BRIEN: “What the parliament requires you to say: I acquired an interest in x company or that I disposed of an interest in X company. What did I do? I said, not only did I dispose of the interest but I added – purely at my own discretion – that I sold it to my business partner.”

LYNEHAM: Now Al, this document the Shareholders & Subscription Agreement, this is the deal that covers the sale of a portion of the piggeries to the Indonesians. The sale that you were supposed to have arranged. What part did you actually play in that sale?

CONSTANTINIDIS: In the actual sale, I played no part at all.

LYNEHAM: So, when Keating says that he’s hands off, his shadow’s not over this deal at all – Is that a lie?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Yes that’s a lie.

KEATING IN PARLIALMENT: “The point is, Mr Speaker, there is nothing hidden”

LYNEHAM: In fact a great deal was hidden. The very day Keating gave that assurance to parliament, William Soeryadjaya and his party, guided by the ever obliging Al were inspecting the piggeries. And the following day, March 4th, 1994, Keating’s sale was toasted with champagne at Al’s Sydney home.

CONSTANTINIDIS: The deal was concluded at my house that night ah everyone that attended the house ultimately stayed for dinner with the exception of Paul, he left.

LYNEHAM: So what was the deal? How did Keating turn a borrowed 430 thousand dollars into millions? The big picture, as Keating likes to say, is the Indonesians agreed to pay six million dollars US to buy into the business. Some was to pay bank debt and running costs and some was to be profit for Keating. Yes, the company was deeply in debt but it did have real potential and they were dealing with a Prime Minister. Now, according to this Indonesian document which they claim was drawn up after a meeting with Keating’s lawyer, here’s what the Prime Minister wanted.

“In order to reduce tax liability and to avoid any possible political backlashes the payment of the US$6 million is structured in the following manner: The first instalment of US$2.5 mil would be divided into a direct fund transfer of US$600,000 as an acquisition payment. [That was for Keating’s shares]

Then it says: “The remaining US$1.9 mil would be treated in a way that it would look like an equity injection , 05 whereas it would actually be channelled out of the company for the benefit of “HE”.”

HE, we now know, was the Indonesians’ code for his excellency, Paul Keating.

Keating’s lawyer, Chris Coudounaris, denies he ever detailed such a scheme. But Al says it’s an accurate account of where most of the hidden 1.9 million dollars really went.

CONSTANTINIDIS: I know precisely where it went.

LYNEHAM: Where?

CONSTANTINIDIS: It went into paying certain accounts and liabilities that existed in the companies at that point in time and the balance went across to my then departed shareholder.

LYNEHAM: Paul Keating.

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: But the official explanation from Keating’s lawyer, Chris Coudounaris, is entirely different. It’s also absolutely misleading.

Now, in this trust account statement he claims that a big chunk of the hidden money had gone to Brown and Hatton Rural – one million three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Now, the Managing Director of that company was Al, and the effect was to make it look as though he had got the money and not Keating.

CONSTANTINIDIS: That money did not go to Brown and Hatton Rural.

LYNEHAM: Well this document – this trust statement says it did.

CONSTANTINIDIS: Well, I think that trust statement says that it was applied to Brown and Hatton Rural, it physically did not go to Brown and Hatton Rural.

LYNEHAM: Can you be absolutely sure of that?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Categorically.

LYNEHAM: 60 Minutes is sure too. Our research verifies that $1.2m of that money was in fact secretly channelled, in two payments to a Keating family trust called Phalaris. That’s also the view of Tony Norman, a partner with chartered accountants, Ferrier Hodgson.

TONY NORMAN: Our belief is that the money went to Paul Keating, on the basis of the document’s that we’ve shown you, and the inquiries that you’ve since made, is that now your view.

TONY NORMAN: Ah, yes, it appears to be the case.

LYNEHAM: Are you sure of that?

TONY NORMAN: It seems that’s the only conclusion that one can draw.

LYNEHAM: Well, why didn’t you simply say to your partner, Paul Keating, hang on mate, put your hand up, let them know that you’ve got it.

CONSTANTINIDIS: Paul, I put my hand up that many times in that period, um, August through to February my hand was sick from being raised. I raised this issue ad-nauseam with himself, I raised it with Chris Coudounaris of Gadens.

LYNEHAM: It left you looking like a crook.

CONSTANTINIDIS: It did.

LYNEHAM: But Prime Minister Keating was still riding high and in March, 94 he lied again.

KEATING IN PARLIAMENT: “Mr Speaker, the Hon gentleman seems to know so much, but he does not know that I disposed of my interest in this business nearly two weeks ago..”

LYNEHAM: Disposed of his interest? Hardly. Remember Warren Anderson, Keating’s millionaire mate ? He was still busy behind the scenes, acting as Keating’s go-between with the Indonesians.

In this fax, dated July 95, Anderson reminded them: “PK last saw William Soeryadjaya November 1994 to re-iterate deal.”

Now, November 94 was seven months after that lie to parliament. Why the ongoing, secret involvement?

Two reasons: Keating was now squeezing the Indonesians’ to pay their second multimillion dollar instalment and because as far as the piggeries were concerned Keating was very much still in the picture, He denies it but the fact is he had retained a valuable option to buy back in and share the expected future bonanza. An option later sold to the Indonesians.

LYNEHAM TO AL: And when the option was sold, who benefited?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Paul did, or his family company.

LYNEHAM: By how much do recall?

CONSTANTINIDIS: The figure was in excess of a million dollars.

LYNEHAM: And you’ve no doubt he got more than a million dollars for this option which he denies ever existed? Well that he ever had?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Well if he denies that I think we have a major inconsistency.

LYNEHAM: At the time Al was relaxed about the inconsistencies. Sure, he’d put up most of the money and not seen any of the big profits. But the suburban financial planner was still somewhat in awe of the Prime Minister, still believed they were mates. And they had a written agreement. At Kirribilli House in May 94, he and Keating had struck a deal about eventually splitting the profits. But Al hadn’t counted on another Keating trick – holding the only copy of key documents

LYNEHAM TO AL: He signed this agreement?

CONSTANTINIDIS: He signed it and I signed it.

LYNEHAM: And who witnessed this agreement? Do you remember who they were? Were there any witnesses?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Yes, I do.

LYNEHAM: Can you tell us who they were ?

CONSTANTINIDIS: I’d rather not, I don’t think it’s appropriate to drag them into it.

LYNEHAM: Did you go away with a copy?

CONSTANTINIDIS: No, Paul wanted to keep the, the agreement because his concern was obviously ah that it shouldn’t fall into anyone else’s hands. LYNEHAM: Have you since asked him for a copy of it?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Yes, I have.

LYNEHAM: And what was his reply?

CONSTANTINIDIS: He refused to provide it.

LYNEHAM: Have you ever got a copy since.

CONSTANTINIDIS: No.

LYNEHAM: In fact three requests for a copy from Al’s solicitors to Keating have gone unanswered, even a request asking whether or not he’d be replying. Keeping the only copy of an agreement is a trick that Keating himself spelt out back in 1975 when as a young MP he appeared before a parliamentary committee setting rules for disclosing members’ outside interests.

The Hansard shows Keating gave the hypothetical example of an MP being able to hide a profit if he had – “an option to purchase for an infinitesimal amount, a property or shares, at sometime in the future, and only one copy ever existed and that was with the member himself – no-one”, said Keating, “could ever say that he had received it.”

All hypothetical, of course.

LYNEHAM: You were too trusting weren’t you?

CONSTANTINIDIS: In many respects.

LYNEHAM: I mean leaving him with only one copy of the Kirribilli House Agreements?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Oh for God’s Sakes, he’s the Prime Minister though! You know, he got a cop- he’s got an original copy of an Agreement, you hardly expect him to change his word on it.

LYNEHAM: But he did.

CONSTANTINIDIS: He did but that’s not the end of it.

LYNEHAM: With Al reassured that the books would be balanced in the long run, Keating was able to become a man of property. He already owned this house at Elizabeth Bay, which he is now renovating. And his portfolio was soon to include this mansion, St Kevin’s in fashionable Woollahra, plus John Laws old waterfront property on the Hawkesbury River.

LYNEHAM TO AL: He made it very clear he wanted funds to be left to him to pay his obligations, one of which was to settle his house. St Kevin’s?

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct, and I firmly understood that since I had an agreement ah with him, that he would have to honour that, um, when, you know, things calmed down and you know we both knew where we were going.

LYNEHAM: And how much money are we talking about?

CONSTANTINIDIS: In aggregate we’re talking a million and a half to two million dollars.

LYNEHAM: It’s a lot of money to let him off.

CONSTANTINIDIS: Well, I wasn’t letting him off. It was a question of him using it um

LYNEHAM: And fixing you up later.

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: Of course the public had no reason to believe he was still wheeling and dealing in the piggeries. After all, he’d assured us he had disposed of his interest back in March, 94.

KEATING IN PARLIAMENT: “, 05 that I disposed of my interest in this business nearly two weeks ago.”

LYNEHAM: But Sixty Minutes now knows that the sting did not reach its finale until two years later. April 1996 was a big month for Paul Keating. Having lost the election he farewelled his staff and resigned from Parliament.

After 27 years in politics he was now a private citizen with two priorities – to get his final payout from the Indonesians and ensure his place in history by concealing forever the deals he had done as Prime Minister.

Free of the constraints of high office Citizen Keating wasted no time. Three days later, all the key players in the piggery drama assembled here at the Sydney offices of law firm, Allen, Allen and Hemsley – the Indonesians, Al Constantinidis, the Commonwealth Bank, and Keating’s lawyer, Coudounaris.

In separate rooms, with lawyers as go-betweens they haggled through the night over who should pay what to whom. Keating, discreetly off stage in a hotel room nearby, negotiating over the phone. By dawn, Paul Keating had finally left the piggery business, with the massive profit he still tries to conceal. Here’s what was agreed, as outlined in this letter from Keating’s lawyer, Chris Coudounaris.

“Pleuron Pty Ltd” (that’s Keating’s company) “is the beneficiary of an amount of US 2.2 million dollars in the name of Rectify Nominees (NSW) Pty Ltd” ( that’s a company owned by Keating’s accountants) “to be paid by Esplanade Investments Pty Ltd..” (that’s the Indonesians).

It had been a heady night. Keating had his new parliamentary pension and ex-Prime Minister’s lavish perks and now, after paying costs, he had another couple of mill to add to what he’d already received.

KERRY O’BRIEN: “Let me ask you a simple question. How much money did you get for your sale of the piggery?”

KEATING: “Oh, Kerry, Look, let me say to you. What I got was a minority part of that money on which I paid full tax , 05.”

CONSTANTINIDIS: Paul would have taken away, external to what he had to provide for the business, in excess of $4 million.

LYNEHAM: More than $4 million?

CONSTANTINIDIS: That’s correct.

LYNEHAM: And what was your takeaway?

CONSTANTINIDIS: My takeaway was under a hundred thousand dollars.

LYNEHAM: So at the end of that meeting as you walked out on the street, about 7.30 in the morning, after that all night session who did you feel then about your one time mate, Paul Keating?

CONSTANTINIDIS: I didn’t feel hate towards him because I still believed that I had in place the integrity of a person that would honour – let’s call them the – the secret agreements um that he held ah between him and I.

LYNEHAM: But Al’s world, and his trust, finally crashed 18 months later in late 97, when Al says he went to Keating’s inner city office to arrange the final settlement of their long partnership. The settlement based on the Kirribilli House agreements.

CONSTANTINIDIS: Well he made it very clear that not only um – he deemed the matter closed but ah he wouldn’t provide me with a copy of the agreements – of the original agreements, um for the obvious fear that you know, I may try to ah take it further.

LYNEHAM: And, did he seem uncomfortable, as he looked at you and told you you weren’t going to get anything.

CONSTANTINIDIS: No, I don’t think he was uncomfortable about it at all, I think he was um almost daring me to anything about it.

LYNEHAM: But if he’d kept to his agreements with you, you would have kept his secrets to the grave?

CONSTANTINIDIS: Yes.

LYNEHAM: So just as Bob Hawke had repudiated the secret Kirribilli House Agreement about Keating’s succession to the Prime Ministership, so Keating repudiated his agreement with Al. The sting was complete.

In part II of this adventure, read all about the cover-up with the Commonwealth Bank here here.

Peter Fray

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