Question: When is a banned company director not always a banned company director? Answer: When you’re Jim Byrnes, the director of a collapsed Sydney auction house, who was recently banned by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission from managing corporations for five years.

ASIC couldn’t have been clearer in its ruling, saying Byrnes’s management “demonstrated incompetence, a lack of commercial morality and a disregard for his statutory duties as a director.” It’s the second time in a decade Byrnes has taken a whack from the regulator. He was forbidden from directing companies for three years in 1999, but as Kate McClymont reported in the SMH last week, “ASIC also found that in 1999, 2000 and 2001, Mr Byrnes managed companies while disqualified.”

Well, one Crikey reader wrote in suggesting Byrnes’ indomitable entrepreneurship may be winning the day again. Despite the ASIC ban, Byrnes still lists himself as the “managing director” of eBay auction site Cromwellsonline.

As ASIC told Crikey this morning, this is not evidence that Byrnes has contravened the ban – it could be that the website simply hasn’t been updated yet. The test is whether he is acting as a director and Crikey has no evidence to suggest he is.

But Crikey couldn’t help noticing an appeal on the Cromwell’s website to the honour and decency of their online customers:

“This business is our livelihood and we are not longer able to take a soft stance on buyers or bidders who do not treat the eBay system a serious buying platform … We regret to have such a hard stance of action, but as mentioned, due to numerous cases where buyers have failed to complete their transaction obligations we must take this firm approach. If you have a problem with any of the above, or any of our terms and conditions, please email Jim Byrnes, Cromwell’s Motor Auctions Managing Director … ”

This won’t provide any relief to Byrnes’s creditors, who are now owed more than $6 million. It won’t be too well received by the disgruntled artists who entered Cromwells’ Art Prize, which as Crikey reported earlier this year went down like a badly painted forgery discovered in a major exhibition.

Yet Byrnes’ internet business is a paragon of propriety to its customers, currently enjoying a positive feedback rating of 98.5%.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.