Melbourne’s Agetoday raises the Vizard scandal another notch.

Westpac is suing Vizard’s former bookkeeper Roy Hilliard for $3m they refunded to Vizard after he claimed Hilliard siphoned the money out of his account without his authorisation.

Hilliard is unlikely to pay – so Westpac will have to prove their case. According to The Age, Westpac plans to call Vizard as a witness and Hilliard’s lawyers have subpoenaed Vizard’s former accountant Greg Lay to give evidence in early September.

Lay’s lawyers recently told Crikey that Lay wished to cooperate with ASIC who, in turn, have agreed to consider a criminal case against Vizard if they get an incriminating statement from Lay. One of three likely things can now happen.

First, Lay gives sworn evidence which incriminates Vizard. ASIC would then have to refer the matter to the DPP to charge Vizard: neither could continue to claim that there is no prospect of a successful criminal production because they don’t have have a statement from Lay.

Two, Lay “takes the fifth” so the matter is no further advanced.

Three (and most likely), Westpac’s main money target must be Vizard, not Hilliard – the former can pay, the latter cannot. Westpac would not be conducting expensive litigation just to get a judgement against a man who they know cannot pay.

Vizard cannot give evidence because he would have to admit as true the facts his counsel provided to the Federal Court: he would then be charged and convicted. He cannot take the fifth because a condition of the refund of the $3m that he received from Westpac was that he cooperate in its recovery from Hilliard. A failure to give evidence would then have Westpac sue Vizard. He cannot take the risk that Lay will give evidence against him.

Westpac has put Vizard in a corner. My tip is that he will do a deal and pay out Westpac – which is much better than going to jail. That would end the proceedings and probably terminate his risk of criminal charges.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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