ASIC and the Commonwealth DPP will
eventually be forced to come clean with more detail over the whole
Steve Vizard saga and we can expect some information in the Federal
Court tomorrow when character references will be produced and Vizard
will tender a statement to the court.

While this saga has become
ASIC’s biggest PR disaster since Yannon, which first became public in
September 1995, it will be interesting to see what we are eventually
told about the Vizard process. This University of Melbourne summary of the Yannon conclusion is interesting:

YANNON MATTER CONCLUDES

On 6 January 2000 ASIC
announced it had been informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) that no charges will be laid in relation to its investigation
into the Yannon transaction.

The Yannon transaction involved the
purchase, by the company, Yannon Pty Ltd, of $25 million of preference
shares in Premier Investments Limited from FAI Insurances Limited.
Coles Myer assisted in the funding of the purchase and ultimately gave
guarantees in connection with it which ensured any loss on the sale of
the shares would be borne by Coles Myer. Coles Myer lost approximately
$18m as a result but (with ASIC’s assistance) has since entered into a
confidential settlement which recouped the bulk of its losses.

ASIC
investigated a wide range of events and issues which occurred over more
than six years from 1 April 1989 until 31 July 1995. During the
investigation ASIC: (a) Collected more than 253,500 pages of documents,
having served 435 notices on many different parties to produce them.

(b) Examined 93 people over 214 sitting days. The transcript of the evidence obtained exceeds 12,500 pages.

The content of the ASIC media conference on Yannon can be read here and check out then chairman Alan Cameron’s speech notes from his press conference here. The whole saga was a joke.

When
you then consider that it took 17 years to finally catch up with Alan
Bond’s crooked finance director Tony Oates, it remains perfectly clear
that the wheels of justice move far too slowly in Australia when
high-profile, well-connected and wealthy corporate crooks are involved.

The
Bond Corp theft of $1.2 billion from Bell Resources was far worse than
Yannon or anything Steve Vizard did and the fact that only three blokes
have pleaded guilty and been sent to jail, speaks volumes about the way
our system deals with white collar crooks.

Bondy served three
years and nine months, Peter Mitchell served 16 months of a four-year
term and Oates might not serve any more time having already done seven
months in Poland and 16 months in Perth. This means Australia’s worst
corporate crime will collectively see three blokes serve about seven
years, which is manifestly inadequate when you consider this is
precisely the amount of time Peter Qasim was locked up for, without
ever being charged with anything.

Peter Fray

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