For a cops and robbers tabloid, the Herald Sun has been way off the pace in terms of the underworld connections to Opes Prime.
The Age has been leading since day one and today’s front page story is perhaps the most significant contribution yet. It began as follows:
Police are investigating the leaking of sensitive information about a planned company takeover to underworld identity Mick Gatto, amid increasing concerns about infiltration of the stockmarket by organised crime.
Australian Federal Police are examining how information on a proposed takeover involving two WA-based companies, Golden West Resources and Fairstar Resources, may have been passed to Mr Gatto and his business partner in Elite Cranes, Matt Tomas.
The incredibly high profile and brazen approach taken by Gatto’s crew is causing concern in some underworld circles because it runs the risk of attracting a far more aggressive regulatory reaction to the broader Opes Prime collapse.
Whilst ASIC and the ASX don’t seem to be doing much and the Victorian coppers are tied up in the never-ending circus surrounding Police Union secretary Paul Mullett, the AFP seems to have opened the batting through The Age today. For instance, the paper named an assortment of colourful characters as top 20 shareholders in Boss Energy. The full list can be viewed on page 29 of the latest annual report.
Whilst Boss Energy is a Perth-based company one of the three directors is Joe Obeid, a former member of the now disbanded Victoria Police Drug Squad who has amassed 12.12% of the company.
Boss originally advised on April 3 that it believed Opes might have financed 16% of the company, but the latest ANZ substantial shareholder update reveals that the bank is still lumbered with 25.97%.
Boss Energy shares last traded at 15.5c having plunged from 40c after Opes collapsed. Shareholders who stumped up $1.2 million at 40c in a February placement won’t be happy but it is not known which substantial shareholders were funded by Opes.
Meanwhile, lawyer turned day trader Chris Murphy is coming right under the spotlight of all players after revelations that Opes gifted him a $250,000 Maserati. Mick Gatto’s mate John Khoury told News Ltd his crew has “plenty of interest in him”.
Unfortunately, Murphy is telling friends he’s only left with $40,000 in the bank.
Gordon Browne, one of the Opes men in Singapore, explained the Opes collapse to The AFR like this:
This money has been lost, mainly as a result of trading especially by Chris Murphy and a few others.
We also learnt today that those 15 million Challenger shares that Murphy dumped on March 10 for $25.5 million finished up with a company associated with the Opes directors. Did Murphy know this at the time he personally signed this substantial shareholders’ notice?
Surely all of these questions can only be answered by a Royal Commission. Challenger shares slumped 4% this morning on fears there are more shares to be dumped on the market.