How can it possibly be OK for Steve Vizard to pick up ASIC’s tab for its investigations into him? Isn’t that just a little too clubby? Doesn’t it add to the perception that the whole deal has been too in-house, right from the start?

No doubt Vizard would happily mow Judge Ray Finkelstein’s lawn in his pinstripe suit every second Sunday if it meant winning a reduced sentence. Not that the judge, in robust form during last week’s hearing, sounds in a mood to cop much of Vizard’s bullsh*t. Former NCA chief Peter Faris has shown why ASIC should have backed out of its deal with Vizard. Is paying the prosecution’s bill the sickly-sweet icing on that creative cake?

I will take up Michael Pascoe’s challenge to guess the Vizard sentence, and float this wild, but hopeful, theory suggested by an optimistic colleague in the Press Gallery: is it possible Finkelstein will refuse to convict so the evidence brought before him can be used in a criminal case? My understanding of judicial precedent is wonky, but something similar happened recently in the ACT Supreme Court when the judge took the view that the prosecution plea-bargain was too low, and threw the case out until more severe charges were brought.

While a civil case under corporations law would, of course, be rather different, it’s the kind of lateral thinking that might make a judge’s reputation. Meanwhile, the letters pages and the blogosphere start to crackle with dissent. To satisfy everybody with his sentencing verdict, Finkelstein will need to apply the wisdom of Solomon and more spin than a Shane Warne zooter.

Peter Fray

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