The great media slaughter of those cosy deal makers Steve Vizard and
ASIC has if anything cranked up a notch today as the commentariat let
fly in no uncertain terms. The statements by ASIC acting chairman
Jeremy Cooper and Federal DPP Damien Bugg yesterday certainly didn’t
temper the raging machine of media mauling. John Howard has clearly
sniffed the breeze and appeared on 3AW this morning denouncing the man his government appointed to the Telstra board. Try these lines for size from today’s papers:

“ASIC calls it a victory; the community will call it an outrage or an embarrassment.”
Elizabeth Knight in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Here
was a middle-aged, jowly, slightly overweight businessman in a blue
pinstripe suit being publicly humbled and chastised for his offences by
a federal judge”
John Hamilton in the Herald Sun.

“The
battle is a long way from over for the disgraced show pony who has
possible perjury charges and some tax gauntlets to run … Luckily for
Vizard, his lawyers are smarter than he was as a sharemarket trader,
but still what deal has he done with Lay to ensure he kept his mouth
shut?” – Chanticleer columnist John Durie in the Financial Review.

“As
someone who is rich, famous and a chronic insider trader, Pierpont
naturally empathises with Steve Vizard … This sympathy is plainly
shared by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the
Director of Public Prosecutions, who have both been doing their utmost
to spare Steve any pain.” Perhaps ASIC has “very small cojones” … and
“maybe the DPP’s cojones have retracted somewhere past their liver.”
– Pierpont columnist Trevor Sykes in the Financial Review.

“There
are so many things wrong in the Steve Vizard affair that it’s a
challenge to catalogue them all … The business world can be expected
to levy its own sanction against Steve Vizard’s gross abuse of trust,
by not employing him in such positions again … Arguments that he will
not make the same mistake a fourth time are unlikely to gain traction.”

Malcolm Maiden in The Age.

“Whether
or not a ten-year ban has any greater effect than a five-year ban on
other people in Vizard’s situation, the psychological impact of the
decision could be considerable, not just in terms of the prospect of
being sin-binned for a decade, but from the message Justice Finkelstein
has sent about the courts’ attitude towards white-collar crimes … the
combination of the disgrace he has experienced and the condemnation of
the court, expressed both in the language of the judgment and,
symbolically perhaps, in the length of the ban, won’t pass unnoticed by
others in the business community.”
Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age.

“The
reality is that whether it [the ban] was five, ten or 20 years, Vizard
is unlikely to ever again hold a directorship of a public company, or
hold any public office. He has demonstrated that he’s untrustworthy and
unfit to hold such office … It’s inconceivable that any board, or
government would consider his appointment, even after he had served out
his ten-year ban.”
Bryan Frith in The Australian.

“The
Federal Court’s Justice Finkelstein has, entirely appropriately,
delivered yet another humiliation to ASIC by rejecting the more
important part of its ‘deal’ with Steve Vizard.”
Terry McCrann in The Herald Sun

Peter Fray

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