I have been asked for an opinion on the matter of ASIC and Mr S Vizard.
It is alleged Vizard purchased c$500,000 in equities while on the board of Telstra and while thereby in a privileged position with respect to Telstra’s business interests and intentions concerning the companies whose stock he was purchasing. It is further alleged Vizard attempted to hide these transactions in a company formed for this purpose and designed to appear separate from himself. It is further alleged that Vizard is a not a fit and proper person to act as director of a public company.
Mr Vizard’s defence is the unusual one of confessed guilt. (“I agree with the charges. I did it. I remember it well. I am guilty”). Dates and amounts of the alleged transactions are provided and are not contested (“Yes, that’s them. I’d recognise them anywhere”). Precedent for this defence is difficult to find in British or Commonwealth Law although it is not uncommon in South America and parts of Sicily. This is not persuasive in the current jurisdiction however, and the defence of guilt can therefore succeed if and only if ASIC is either too poor to run the case or its officers and assigns are insane within the meaning of the legislation.
Mr Vizard’s secondary defence (‘I lost money trust me on the shares I purchased illegally’) is problematic since it implies that Vizard is a man in whose word some trust may sensibly be placed. Having regard to his primary defence, this is clearly not the case. It is, in any event, irrelevant since his intentions and method are already established.
Mr Vizard’s statement that he is a businessman, a dedicated family man and is assisting the downtrodden triumphalist Donald Wood, are also irrelevant and are likely to invite ridicule if made in public, particularly if endorsed by Mr Jeffrey Kennett.
The statement from Mr Ronald J Walker does not address any material issue and, inter alia, makes the claim that Vizard has done work of some unspecified kind. This contention is not supported by evidence of any sort and throws in extravagant doubt any credibility Walker might have as a witness. I suggest he be advised to desist immediately and forthwith from making any further statements on any subject.
The statement from Mr Stephen Bracks (which I note is on the same restaurant stationery as that of Mr Walker) makes it clear that Vizard has resigned from several important government posts and can have those positions back when “all this crap blows over.” This suggests Mr Bracks might also find highly paid government positions for Mr Rodney Adler, Mr Michael Gatto and the beneficiaries of Mr Skase’s important “work.” I feel sure most Victorians would be happy with such arrangements. There may be some exceptions to that proposition but they need not detain us.
Vizard’s statement “All I did was break the law. It’s not a crime” is not, prima facie, evidence of sickening arrogance. Properly viewed, it seeks to highlight the ways in which, in his dealings with ASIC on the matter of the insider trading of which he admitted he was guilty, he managed to shift the guilt to that of having breached directors’ duties.
Concerning Vizard’s decision to travel overseas for a month while the deal he has done with ASIC is announced by his media company; this does not imply contempt of court since Vizard’s negotiations with ASIC have ensured that he will not have to waste his time appearing in court. I note that contempt of the community is not a crime, a tort or a malfeasance.
Lewis Carroll QC.
Alice Liddell Chambers,