HIH Insurance collapsed back on March
15, 2001 and in April 2003, Royal Commissioner Justice Neville Owen
released his final report and recommended a slew of charges.

The
wheels of justice grind slowly, but the corporate plod is batting
reasonably well so far as founder Ray Williams, former FAI boss and HIH
director Rodney Adler and HIH’s Australian managing director Terry
Cassidy have all volunteered themselves for some porridge by pleading
guilty.

After an expensive 44 day jury trial, ASIC secured its
first contested guilty verdict against Brad Cooper yesterday and he is
likely to get at least five years without parole given the not guilty plea
and the thirteen charges.

This more than compensates for the
earlier defeat in June this year when former HIH deputy chairman
Charles Abbott beat a criminal charge over misusing his position.
However, charges against other key players such as finance director
Dominic Fodera have only just been laid so there is still plenty of
action to come and if anything, the cases get more tricky from here on.
This is the current state of play of the various HIH charges:

Brad Cooper: guilty of 13 counts, sentencing submissions begin on December 2. Likely to get at least five years without parole.

Ray Williams:
pleaded guilty to three charges of knowingly making misleading
statements. Sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ jail on April 15 with a
non-parole period of two years and nine months.

Rodney Adler:
pleaded guilty to four charges and sentenced to four-and-a-half years’
jail, with a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years on April 14 this
year.

Terry Cassidy:
the former head of HIH in Australia, pleaded guilty to three charges
and was sentenced to 15 months jail, but will be released on 28
February 2006 after serving ten months.

Charles Abbott: former deputy chairman faced one criminal charge over misusing his position by getting a cheque
for $181,455 cleared expeditiously on the day it collapsed. Unlike many
others, fought the charge and it was dismissed on June 7.

Tim Mainprize, Stephen Burroughs and Daniel Wilkie:
Former FAI and HIH executives were the first charged way back in July
2003 over the bogus reinsurance deals but their cases have still not
been resolved.

Bill Howard:
pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal misconduct over receiving
bribes from Brad Cooper and received a three year suspended sentence.

Dominic Fodera: former finance director recently charged with six criminal appearances. Will appear again in court next February.

Who
does this leave? HIH chairman Geoff Cohen has largely been left alone
by ASIC although he does pop up on APRA’s comprehensive disqualification register, along with a range of other HIH and FAI executives.

The
former auditor and chairman of the HIH board’s audit committee, Justin
Gardiner, is the most publicly active in business as he remains on
boards such as Hutchison and Austar. Similarly, fellow director Bob
Stitt QC remains active at the NSW bar, popping up representing pokies pioneer Len Ainsworth last week.

All
up, the public has received a reasonable return on its $150
million-plus investment in the HIH Royal Commission and subsequent
court sequels.