After the outcry over its deal with Steve Vizard, ASIC is also in trouble with its big case against Jodee Rich and Mark Silberman for $92 million in damages, as you can see from this report of the One.Tel hearings from Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

ASIC now has to contend with doubt about the bone fides of a key witness, former One.Tel employee, Samantha Randall. Last week barristers for Rich managed to extract a confession in court that she was paid a “consultant’s fee” by Consolidated Press (the private company of Kerry and James Packer) after she provided an affidavit to ASIC back in 2002.

It’s not the first time that key ASIC evidence on One.Tel’s demise has been ripped apart by the presiding judge, Justice Bob Austin, who is a former professor in Corporate Law at Sydney University and extremely well-versed in the nuances of this confusing piece of legislation.

Justice Austin also said on Friday that ASIC’s “decision makers” had made “a serious error of judgment” in keeping as an expert witness an accountant after learning that his testimony could have been prejudiced by exposure to material now excluded from evidence. It’d be interesting to hear what former One.Tel partner, Brad Keeling, makes of all this: he did a deal with ASIC and escaped the present court case. Judging by the way the ASIC case is going at the moment that may have been a serious miscalculation.

Peter Fray

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