“As Finkelstein J held, Mr Vizard’s conduct, he having knowingly engaged in wrongdoing for personal gain, was dishonest and a gross breach of trust…”

“In my view, Mr Vizard deliberately underplayed the extent to which he exercised control over Mr Hilliard’s work.”

“I can say at once that I do not accept Mr Vizard’s evidence that he did not authorise Mr Hilliard to pay any of the cheques in Exhibit 2.”

“I do not accept that Mr Vizard had a temporary loss of memory as to signing the letter. Having given careful consideration to the matter I am of the view that at best the instruction (by Mr Vizard) was given carelessly and at worst was designed to deflect a genuine signature from consideration. Whichever it be, and I consider the latter the correct inference, it reflects adversely on the character and integrity of Mr Vizard and the reliability of his evidence.”

“I reject Mr Vizard’s attempt to distance himself from the invoices and accounts and to say that he did not pay attention to such matters or that such accounts were paid by Mr Hilliard without his express or tacit approval.”

“I also reject Mr Vizard’s denial that he discussed with, or in the presence of, Mr Hilliard the income generated by the PAS Group and the corresponding tax liability position.”

“I note that Mr Vizard suggested at Mr Hilliard’s committal that Mrs Vizard may have paid the bills but that is not evidence in this case and, in any event, I consider that answer served to obscure the fact that Mr Vizard knew of and authorised the payments Mr Hilliard made set out in Exhibit 2.”

“It seems to me somewhat surprising that Mr Vizard was not aware of the presence of six paintings in the asset register in view of his interest in art and his familiarity with the financial statements including the asset register and depreciation schedule.”

“I also reject Mr Vizard’s allegation that Mr Hilliard created the false entries to conceal his theft of money.”

“…in cross-examination his approach and demeanour changed. He went from the firm and certain to being defensive and forgetful and even engaged in false denial when it did not suit the case…”

“But that acknowledgment came after Mr Vizard had denied that Mr Hilliard had possessed authority to sign cheques over $10,000 to J B Were and Ord Minnett, which evidence I referred to above. That evidence was false, knowingly in my view.”

“I reject as false Mr Vizard’s generalised evidence to the effect that any cheque signed by Mr Hilliard for an amount greater than $10,000 was signed without authority.”

“In my view, in his evidence in relation to these cheques, Mr Vizard gave evidence that ranged from false denial to obfuscation and feigned forgetfulness.”

“The performance is to be understood as part of the attempt to deflect the Court from a true understanding of Mr Hilliard’s role and authority in writing cheques.”

“I reject as false Mr Vizard’s evidence that he had no memory of the meeting with Mr Fyfe…”

“I find that, possessed as he is of an astute and alert mind, the fact that his bookkeeper had drawn cheques in excess of his authority would have impressed itself on Mr Vizard’s mind, and that he would have remembered the incident.”

“Mr Vizard’s evidence describing his working relationship with Mr Hilliard was misleading.”

“For the cross-examiner the process of having Mr Vizard face up to this was like drawing teeth…”

“In my view, considering all of these matters, I found Mr Vizard to be an unreliable witness.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey