There are only so many shots you have time to fire during the course of a single TV program. Four Corners last night fired plenty at some of the obvious Firepower targets, but eventually did little more than illustrate the story built up by the SMH over the past 18 months, putting faces to some of the victims and scamsters.
It was certainly an achievement though to somehow get former Firepower CEO John Finnan and former Firepower technical sales manager Ken Gracey to dob themselves in as conmen and liars, willing accomplices in Tim Johnston’s big scam.
But the news angle that the ABC is now trying to push — that ASIC was warned about the rort in 2006 — still rather misses the point. Kalgoorlie accountant Robert Northcoat is to be congratulated for trying to blow the whistle and ASIC castigated for failing to act on his warning, but there is a much bigger inherent failure involved in this racket.
Let’s take a quick reality check here: Firepower was very, very publicly proclaiming that it could turn lead into gold, water into wine, grow hair on a billiard ball and cure the common cold. And tomorrow it was going to deliver peace in the Middle East and raise Diana Windsor from the grave.
OK, Johnston and his cronies didn’t make those exact claims, but their magic fuel additive promises were every bit as ridiculous. That ASIC was either incapable of smelling the rat itself or simply not interested in doing anything about it is nearly as criminal as the actual scam.
Johnston’s success — the theft of $100 million or so — means that our securities and investment watchdog is no smarter than the gullible people who chose to believe in miracles when promised massive investment returns and the sporting bodies prepared to act dumb when bribed with sponsorship millions.