Crikey, 25 March 2003: Huge liberal donor joins Reserve Bank board

Peter Costello has appointed one of the biggest Liberal donors to the
board of the Reserve Bank. Rob Gerard from the Adelaide-based Gerard
Industries scored the 5 year appointment this morning.

Gerard Industries has been the biggest donor to the South Australian
Liberals over the past few years and his contributions are now pushing
$1 million.

Costello also appointed Hugh Morgan to the Reserve Bank a few years
back and his former company WMC is another huge Liberal donor.

We don’t like this strong correlation between vital government board
appointments and the list of Liberal donors. It’s grubby and there
oughta be a law agin it.

Crikey, 26 March 2003: Rob Gerard’s Liberal connections

At the risk of spoiling a bit of political point scoring in the media
today, there would be no truth in the idea that Robert Gerard has
‘bought a seat’ on the RBA Board with political donations. It is,
however, odds-on that Mr Gerard is spot-on when he says, “I suppose, in
the end, the boss – Ian Macfarlane (RBA Governor) – will say ‘bang’
this is what is happening”.

The private members of the Reserve Bank Board have representative,
advisory roles but no ‘voting’ authority for policy decisions.
Moreover, having taken their seat, it would be inappropriate for them
to be heard saying anything at all publicly about policy issues on the
RBA agenda. One corollary of this is that – contrary to occasional
popular clamour – it would be entirely inappropriate for there to be
any public release of the ‘minutes’ of what may have been said in the
course of RBA Board meetings.

Seen but not heard.

CRIKEY: The papers gave Rob Gerard’s political connections a good going over today which is most welcome.

Crikey, 31 March 2003: Rob Gerard’s Tax Troubles

Meredith Booth had a very interesting story in Friday’s Adelaide
Advertiser about the tax troubles of the newest Reserve Bank director
Rob Gerard.

Here are some of the choice bits:

“ONE of South Australia’s largest private companies, Gerard Industries,
faces a Federal Court battle over a $70.3 million tax bill.

“The controlling company of all Gerard entities has made a $70.2
million provision in its accounts in case the tax office is successful
in retrieving the amount.

“It comprises $32.5 million for primary tax plus $37.7 million in penalties and interest for the year to June 30, 2001.

“It is believed the tax concerns relate to tax deductions made over 13 years from the 1985-86 financial year to 1997-98.

“On one of the matters, the tax office claims in its defence that
Gerard Industries paid between $600,000 and $1.7 million in annual
insurance premiums over the 13-year period to a Caribbean-based tax
shelter company.

“The Netherlands Antilles incorporated company, International Insurance
and Risk Finance Corp (IIRF), changed its name to FAI Insurance NV in
May, 1986. It has no connection with the former Australian public
company FAI Insurance Ltd.

“These payments – which average almost $1 million annually – seem to be
the focus of the dispute between Gerard Industries and the tax office.

“The tax office alleges the amounts claimed by Gerard Industries as a
tax deduction were $1.5 million each in 1985-86 and 1986-87, $1.1
million in 1987-88 and again in 1988-89, $600,000 in 1989-90 and
1990-91, $1.25 million in 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993-94, $1.41 million
in 1994-95, $1.3 million in 1995-96, $1.4 million in 1996-97 and $1.7
million in 1997-98.

“The tax office claims in documents filed with the Federal Court in
Melbourne that the payments were ‘shams’ and should not have been
claimed by the company as a tax deduction.”

CRIKEY: Surely it is inappropriate to appoint Rob Gerard to the Reserve
Bank board when he is embroiled in a major dispute with the tax office
involving allegedly “sham” transactions. Then again, Gerard was
single-handedly responsible for keeping the South Australian Libs
afloat for a few years with donations topping $1 million. We reckon
these donations helped secure the Reserve Bank directorship and it is
completely inappropriate. We’ve also heard that Gerard had a meeting
with Labor’s Mike Rann after he became South Australian Premier and
basically told him how to run the state.

Crikey, 2 April 2003: More tax trouble for Rob Gerard

Does new Reserve Bank board member and generous Liberal donor Rob
Gerard face battles with the Tax Office on more than one front? News
broke just after his appointment of Federal Court action over a tax
claim of more than $70 million involving his business interests and a
Caribbean-based tax shelter company.

Now, the rumour mill says that there are some film schemes that are
also in the sights of the ATO. Not what the Treasurer would like to
hear.

Crikey, 14 August 2004: Is Rob Gerard stumping up for SA Libs again?

As the burlesque extravaganza known as the South Australian Liberal AGM
draws ever nearer, titillating talk about the party finances continues
to do the rounds.

The latest variation says that Rob Gerard, head of the Gerard
Industries, maker of Clipsal electronic products and sometime generous
party donor (particularly when his mate Dean Brown was leader) was
invited in to see outgoing president Rosemary Craddock yesterday
morning. Such curious timing.

Maybe they were discussing monetary policy as Howard and Costello
thought it a bright idea to appoint him to the Reserve Bank board a few
months back.

Crikey, 9 October 2003: Skeletons and Liberal Party bagmen

The Adelaide Advertiser got very excited yesterday at the possibility
local lad Rob Gerard could end up as Liberal Party federal treasurer.

Gerard has plenty of time on his hands to play the bagman since he sold
the family Clipsal electronics business to French multinational
Schneider for $750 million back in August, half of which goes to his
family.

True, he is on the Board of the Reserve Bank, thanks to his donations
to the Liberal Par… er, business know-how – but what’s a conflict of
interest like that to a Prime Minister who tolerated Warwick Parer’s,
John Moore’s and Geoff Prosser’s antics as members of his Ministry.

But before he thinks too much about the job, perhaps he’d better first
think about giving – once and for all – a clear explanation of what
Catch Tim was all about, just to make sure there’s no cloud hanging
over his head?

Catch who? Catch what? Well, exactly.

“Catch Tim” was the name of a Hong Kong-based entity that made a
$500,000 donation to the South Australian Liberal Party in the lead up
to the 1993 state election. Curiously, it was around this time that
Gerard sold half of Clipsal to a Hong Kong-based outfit which has
enjoyed fabulous returns and a $375 million cheque from the new French
owners.

The results were a foregone conclusion, thanks to the billions of
dollars the Bannon Labor government had to shell out when the State
Bank of South Australia went under thanks to the inspired chairmanship
of one Tim Marcus-Clark – hence the name.

But that didn’t stop then state party treasurer Gerard from pulling in
the dollars wherever he could find them – like from Catch Tim.

The only problem is that no-one could ever catch just who was behind
Catch Tim. The supposed contact point denied knowledge of the donation
– and the matter remains cloudy even today, even though Gerard could
probably clear it up in a jiffy. It’s always been thought, you see,
that he knew all about Catch Tim.

If he doesn’t, should he be considered as a possible federal Liberal
treasurer? The Catch Tim episode wasn’t exactly in the spirit of the
electoral laws.

Indeed, isn’t it the Tiser’s job to ask questions like that rather than
puffing his appointment on its front page? Or is it all OK for Rupe’s
rag when it’s a local boy?