There’s this Perth bloke who sells a little pill that you throw in your petrol tank and magically and massively increase your power and fuel economy as well as saving the planet by lowering emissions. And the pills are only one of several utterly amazing fuel system “products” he’s flogging. It’s only a matter of opinion, but I reckon they make Brock’s magnet look credible.

And there are three much bigger mysteries than the $1.50-a-pop pills:

1. Where’s the money really coming from for Tim Johnston to splash many millions around on ownership of the Sydney Kings basketball team and sponsorship of the Western Force and Tongan rugby union sides, Russell Crowe’s Souths league team and Superbike, V8 Supercars and Porsche Carrera Cup racing?

2. How much, if any, due diligence did the above sporting organisations do before getting into bed with Tim Johnston’s Firepower mob? And:

3. What sort of interest might the ACCC be conducting into Firepower’s fuel additive claims and ASIC into Firepower’s corporate structure and fund raising?

The SMH’s Gerard Ryle has done a great job on a big story that’s been sitting under everyone’s nose since Firepower starting throwing the millions around on sports sponsorship last year, but, as usual, the rest of the media hasn’t bothered to follow it. There is no shortage of on-going angles, but “it wasn’t invented here”.

If you’ve been around a while, you could form opinions about the smell of Firepower just from its website. There’s a certain lack of real information, a definite shortage of scientific support – endorsements by a few Greek taxi drivers wouldn’t pass Mythbusters – and more than a little oddity about the east European connections and the minimal and limited Australian distribution.

And then you could follow the invitation to fill out an investor inquiry form. It seems some people think Firepower is heading for a London listing and a killing for investors. I somehow think it might be more at home on the Romanian exchange.

Ryle uncovers plenty of other oddities, including a most intriguing similarity between Firepower’s little pills and modus operandi and that of a Kiwi company, a credulous little story in the Bulletin reporting support by Peter Beattie, Firepower’s use of Austrade to try to build its credibility and a lack of findable company records.

Thing is, if I had a potion that could do half of what Firepower wants you to believe its pills can, I would be off to a couple of credible organisations, maybe the University of NSW and NRMA, to conduct credible tests, publish the results and sit back counting the many credible billions that would be thrown at me by the world’s biggest and most credible companies.

But not the mysterious Tim Johnston. That’s apparently fine with the ACCC, ASIC, the NBL, the NRL, the ARU, Peter Beattie, Austrade and the rest of Australia’s media.

Never mind. It’s January. Most of us are still asleep. Some of us seem always to be asleep.

Peter Fray

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