By Stephen Mayne

Herald Sun business reporter Craig Binnie cranked it right up this morning with a front page splash alleging that 10 prominent Melbourne millionaires bought shares in Sausage Software after Steve Vizard was informed of the impending Solution 6 merger on March 2, 2000, but before it was announced to the market on March 20.

This looks like a cracking story but it has been swamped by this morning’s terror raids and arrests in Melbourne and Sydney overnight. The only thing missing from the story is the names. Clearly, the Herald Sun fears litigation but share registers are public documents so there shouldn’t be too big a problem simply stating the facts.

Melbourne is full of gossip this morning over who are the following Sausage traders identified by the Herald Sun as follows:

  • Investment company run by members of one of Australia’s wealthiest families
  • Wealthy Toorak widow associated with one of Australia’s best known companies.
  • Wife of former Liberal MP
  • One of Australia’s wealthiest men
  • One of Melbourne’s most well known businessmen and a family member (surely everyone has a family!)

We have no idea who the Herald Sun is talking about but can list the 10 wealthiest Melbourne families according to BRW: Dick Pratt, Smorgon family, David Hains, Liberman family, John Gandel, Wilson family of Reece plumbing, Marc Besen, Solomon Lew, Lindsay Fox, Myer family.

We very much doubt that any of these upstanding individuals or families would be involved in such trading, but questions are being asked about Vizard’s various business, sporting and arts connections.

The problem with proving insider trading is that you have to establish that someone was directly provided inside information and then used that information to profit. ASIC pretty much had Steve Vizard cold thanks to the board records and the trading information, even though his accountant Greg Lay refused to testify.

For any of the Herald Sun’s “ten Melbourne millionaires” to go down, it would need to be established that they directly got a tip from Steve Vizard, or some other insider, that the Sausage and Solution 6 merger was coming up and a serious market re-rating was expected.

There was clearly a lot of inside trading going around at the time of the dotcom boom and it is disappointing that Steve Vizard remains the only scalp, yet even he managed to escape jail. Not good enough.