Another day, another series of stories in the papers about Steve Vizard. The Herald Sun had a good story
on accountant Greg Lay and a “religious sect” that he founded. Sounds a
bit odd for the chairman of a respectable mid-sized Melbourne
accounting firm like Bentley MRI, but the Herald Sun quotes Lay from this Breakthrough Ministries Inc website:

“Our calling is to please God,” Lay wrote. “Come to the point where we are
built up by pleasing God, not man.”

He goes on to say: “I believe in a God who will cover our mistakes if our
heart is to seek him.”

What does God think of Lay’s refusal to give evidence against his dodgy client?

The AFR is also still on the case, producing a story today quoting the
Institute of Chartered Accountants saying it will do nothing about
Greg Lay’s apparent pivotal role in connection with Vizard’s inside trading. Self regulation, don’t ya love it.

The Australian
ran strongly with a Richard Gluyas story
suggesting two Victorian law enforcement agencies failed to act on
insider trading allegations against Steve Vizard. This is a good point.
Allegedly crooked bookkeeper Roy Hilliard delivered the goods on
Vizard with a 29-page suicide note that was discovered on Christmas Eve
way back in 2000.

This was then hand-balled around the Victoria Police, the DPP and ASIC
for four and a half years before the gentlemanly plea bargain was finally struck
last week when Vizard was cruising around the Med with his family and celebrity bookmaker Simon Beasley.

Virginia Trioli’s spin doctors segment on ABC Victoria last night also
looked closely at the Vizard matter and Gavin Anderson’s Nick Maher
said the huge publicity is being driven by “all these websites
spouting legal opinions.” He then specifically mentioned Peter Faris,
so presumably he was partly attributing the huge media reaction to
Crikey’s aggressive pursuit of the story.

Tales of Vizard’s business dealings continue to reach Crikey and one
arts insider estimated London-based Granada dropped about $40 million
from its association with the former funny man. Granada paid an estimated $28 million for the whole of Artist Services
in 1998, three years after John Fairfax paid $9 million to Steve Vizard
and Andrew Knight for a 50% stake in what was their 50-50 joint venture
established in 1989.

The business ran at a loss for Granada which eventually
punted Vizard and then completely closed the Melbourne operation. These
days Granada simply produces foreign formats in Australia, a business
they could have established for about $5 million, rather than buying
the outfit that was behind shows such as Fast Forward, Jimeoin, Tonight Live, the ABC mini-series Simone de Beauvoir’s
, and films including Richard Flanagan’s The Sound of one Hand Clapping and Siam Sunset.

Then you have a range of stories coming in about Virtual Communities
but that will have to wait for another day. Keep the great tips coming
to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey