By Stephen Mayne, Glenn Dyer and Rachel Osman-Chin (who was in court for Crikey)


Convicted
criminal and dishonest insurance spiv Rodney Adler will be locked up
for at least 30 months after Justice John Dunford showed little
sympathy in sentencing the former Rich Lister in the NSW Supreme Court
this morning. Adler (as a convicted crook he loses the Mr) pleaded
guilty on four counts of dishonesty and was sentenced to a maximum of
four and a half years of porridge, with a non-parole period of two and
a half years.

Known as Rocket Rodney by his mates, because he
was no rocket scientist, Adler was calm and sat silently with his hands
clasped as he was sentenced to two years and six months for giving out
false information when he told a Fin Review hack that he’d used his own money to buy HIH shares when he’d actually used HIH money.

The
disgraced con-man was also sentenced to three years, commencing 14
October 2006, for failing to tell the truth to the HIH board that he’d
convinced Ray Williams to approve a loan of $2 million for an
investment vehicle, Business Thinking Systems, which subsequently went
belly up. And he was handed a further 12-month sentence for lying to
Ray Williams over the loan to Business Thinking Systems.

Lies
and deceit all round and the judge provided the predictable rhetorical
dressing, declaring that “the offences are serious and demonstrate an
appalling lack of corporate morality”.

Rodney’s claim to have
made “stupid errors of judgment“ were dismissed. “They were not stupid
errors of judgment but deliberate lies,” Justice Dunford said. “The
amount of money fraudulently obtained from the company ($2 million) was
large.”

Rodney won’t be out before 13 October, 2007 and this
looks about right from Crikey’s perspective. Rivkin-esque weekend
detention would not have sufficed but the judge did need to take into
account that the spoilt little rich kid has no priors and wasn’t solely
responsisble for the collapse of HIH. Those that plead guilty usually
expect shorter sentences and Rodney did stop fighting when he agreed to
cop the rap in February, although he’d battled the charges for years
earlier and lost every time.

The taxpayer has dropped about $1 billion in the HIH collapse, the
biggest whack being NSW and Queensland picking up HIH’s compulsory
third party liabilities, and with more than $100 million spent on the
Royal Commission, the public wanted to see some men lose their suits
and go to jail.

However,
Rodney and the judge both made the point that this sentence had nothing
to do with the collapse of HIH. Expect to hear Rodney push this line
all over the place, including in an interview to be broadcast on Monia
Attard’s Sunday night ABC show this week.

Rodney is the first, and probably won’t be the last, HIH player to do
time. The man most responsible for the rise and fall of HIH, former
long-serving CEO Ray Williams, will be sentenced tomorrow and could
very well follow him inside as he’s pleaded guilty to three charges
under the Corporations Act and faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in
prison. Then you’ve got the court jester of the saga, Brad Cooper, who
has a good chance of doing some time as well.

Old
Rodney mates and business associates such as James Packer, Jodee Rich
and Malcolm Turnbull probably won’t visit the lad in jail as most now
number in his large list of “former associates”.

Adler will be
classified a minimum-security prisoner and is likely to serve his
sentence at the John Morony correctional centre at Windsor, 60km from
Sydney’s central business district. He will enter the prison system at
Silverwater jail next door to Sydney Olympic Park where a committee
will interview him before giving him a security classification.

The
Morony centre, which houses 550 inmates, is considered his most likely
destination because it’s a low-risk facility where Macquarie Bank high
flyer Simon Hannes served his sentence for insider trading. What should
Rodney do in prison? Any suggestions from Crikey readers? Make number
plates, hessian sacks, grow veggies? Suggestions to [email protected] .

When
compared with other corporate crooks over the years, Adler’s sentence
is comparatively harsh. Alan Bond only did three years over a $1.4
billion theft – the equivalent of $1 million a day. Christopher Skase
never faced charges and John Elliott beat his criminal charges on a
technicality, so he’s no crook.

Here is Crikey’s list ranking
the ten highest profile business types who’ve finished up on the inside
since the end of the 1980s:

Alan Bond: 3 years for $1.4 billion Bell Resources theft and Manet painting fraud.
Brian Quinn: Coles Myer chairman served 9 months for fraud to build his mansion.
Douglas Reid: former Southern Cross Holdings Deputy Chairman got 8 years for false accounting and theft.
Russell
Goward: Former Westmex boss got 2 years for making false and misleading
statements in a press statement in December 1989.
Ken Jarrett: Elders IXL director served 6 months after pleading guilty and turning on John Elliott.
Peter Mitchell: 4 years for $1.4 billion cash strip of Bell Resources.
Richard
and Reuben Lew: former managing director of Estate Mortgage and his
father: 3 years and 2 years, respectively, for breaches of directors
duties.
Garry Carter: 4 years for dodgy dealings in the listed Entity Group.
Simon Hannes: Macquarie Bank director got 2.1 years for insider trading on $2m of TNT shares.
Alan Hodgson: CFO of Harris Scarfe, 6 years jail for 32 charges.

Check out Crikey’s ASIC jail list here and feedback to [email protected] .

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW