April 2005: Queensland bio-pharmaceutical company CBio is granted $6 million under the government’s Pharmaceutical Partnerships Program (P3) to develop an anti-inflammatory compound.
December 2005: Liberal Backbencher Santo Santoro is offered $6,000 worth of shares in CBio Limited by Family Council of Queensland president Alan Baker, also an associate director with Retirewell Financial Planning.
27 January 2006: Santoro takes on the Ageing portfolio. One of his responsibilities is listed as “Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions“. Santoro doesn’t declare or sell the shares.
23 August 2006: CBio announces that its government-supported study has delivered “a significant new anti-inflammatory compound which could provide new hope for arthritis sufferers”.
October 2006: Santoro becomes “aware” of the shareholding and tells PM John Howard. He offloads his 2,000 shares for a 100% profit and gives proceeds, less than the original $6,000, to the Family Council of Queensland. He updates the Senate Register of Interests.
12 March 2007: Santoro’s former shareholding in CBio is revealed. He tells ABC’s AM program that although he “umm-ed and ahh-ed about [buying the shares in CBio] … over quite a number of months” by the time he’d taken on his Ageing portfolio, “for the want of a better expression, I did put them in a bottom drawer, and the rest of course, you know”.
13 March 2007: While Santoro has technically breached John Howard’s Ministerial Code of Conduct, the PM declares that unintentional rule-breaking is not a sackable offence. “Everybody can from time to time be guilty of inadvertence.”
13 March 2007: Santoro confirms he “will not be claiming a tax deduction for [the shares] … I would think that would be grossly improper.” He describes the Family Council of Queensland, whose members include the Festival of Light, the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army as “a very good advocacy group in Canberra … I’ve had considerable contact with representatives, not just from Queensland but from across Australia.”
15 March 2007: Labor says Santoro has more questions to answer about the $5,000 grant he helped the Family Council procure 18 months before offloading the shares.