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    « More events | Main | Murder, mayhem, corruption »
    Monday
    Feb062017

    Another week - more mayhem

    Week @ the Knees for January 29 - February 5 ... Fairfax grovels to ex-Leighton boss ... Medich murder trial ... Girlfriend of Lindt gunman sentenced to 33 years ... Tales of Tim Worner ... Peter Thiel buys NZ citizenship ... Culleton prised from the senate ... Secret bid document for land titles registry ... Contempt charge for Brandis looms ... Kiefel sworn-in 

    AS part of the settlement of defamation proceedings Fairfax newspapers published a fulsome apology to Wal King, the former CEO of Leighton Holdings. 

    In 2013 The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Financial Review reported on a wide ranging investigation by Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker in which King was implicated in serious corporate misconduct, including approving payment of a $42 million bribe in Iraq. 

    "We now accept that any such allegations against Mr King are false," said the apology. 

    King agreed: "I always knew that the facts would justify my claims that the allegations against me were false."  

    On the day that the Financial Review published its prominent apology, and on the same page, it also reported that ASIC had charged former Leighton executive Russell Waugh with falsification of company documents.  

    The corporate regulator had previously charged Leighton's former chief financial officer Peter Gregg with the same offence. 

    It relates to investigations into a $15 million payment from Leighton to UAE based Asian Global Projects and Trading - part of an inquiry into alleged corruption within Leighton between 2009 and 2011.  

    *   *   *

    Gattellari: alleged to have arranged the hitThroughout the week the Ron Medich murder trial has been running hot in the NSW Supreme Court before Justice Geoff Bellow and a jury. 

    Medich is accused of murdering Scottish wheeler-dealer and former business partner Michael McGurk. 

    Crown prosecutor Gina O'Rourke SC opened the case by saying Medich and McGurk had fallen out after a number of business and property deals soured.  

    It is alleged that former boxer "Lucky" Gattellari was asked by Medich to organise the "hit" on McGurk

    Bellew told the jurors that there was a potential two year jail term if any one of them was caught conducting private online research. 

    *   *   *

    Amirah Droudis was sentenced to a minimum of 33 years in gaol for the stabbing murder of the ex-wife of Lindt siege gunman, Man Haron Monis.  

    Justice Peter Johnson, in the NSW Supreme Court, accepted that Monis planned and orchestrated the murder, but was unwilling to carry it out himself. 

    The judge described Monis and Droudis' relationship as "highly unusual". 

    The offender met Monis at his spiritual healing and clairvoyant workshop. 

    *   *   *

    Standby for more on the Tim Worner ... Amber Harrison ... Seven West Media affair - along with associated allegations of credit card misuse and drug snorting. 

    Harrision: tell all for tellyMs Harrison says the report from Allens that the Seven board used to clear ("Root-Rat") Warner was a "whitewash". She says the report was prepared at great speed. 

    Harrison was interviewed on Friday (Jan. 27) before her statement arrived at the law firm. The board was given the report on Thursday night (Feb. 2) and the next day it sent a brief to shareholders.  

    Worner's former lover is now talking to TV networks about the possibility of a tell-all. Seven lawyers have responded by threatening legal action if an interview goes ahead - citing, if you please, proceeds of crime. 

    On the day the board received Allens' report, Seven director and Gilbert + Tobin partner, Sheila McGregor, resigned from the media group's board. 

    On the other hand, Seven West Media director, Jeff Kennett, says he's "confident" the review established beyond doubt that Worner is in the clear. 

    *   *   *

    Peter Thiel, US technology billionaire, Trump supporter, libertarian, and Hulk Hogan litigation funder, was granted New Zealand citizenship in 2011, contrary to the usual criteria required by the land of the strangled vowel. 

    Apparently, his entrepreneurial skills were deemed beneficial to the country, even though he has no intention of living there. 

    New Zealand is now the preferred safe haven for the global mega-rich who are snapping up swathes of local real estate.   

    *   *   *

    Culleton: absent offenderThe Court of Disputed Returns has found that One Nation Senator Rod Culleton had been convicted in the Local Court at Armidale, in his absence, of the offence of larceny. The conviction attracted a penalty of imprisonment of one year, or longer, at the time of the 2016 federal election was held. 

    As an "absent offender" he could not be sentenced to imprisonment at that time. On August 8, 2016, a warrant for the arrest of Culleton was executed, and the Local Court granted an annulment of his conviction under the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001. 

    On October 25, 2016, the Local Court found Culleton guilty of the offence of larceny on his own plea but, pursuant to s 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, dismissed the charge without proceeding to conviction. 

    The High Court said section 44(ii) of the Constitution prohibited Culleton taking his place in the senate because he had been convicted of the relevant criminal offence at the time the election was held.  

    *   *   *

    Emeritus law professor Tony Blackshield writing in the Australian Public Law blog said that Culleton was "among the more attractive candidates for Pauline Hanson's One Nation - cheerfully free from any sign of cultural and ethnic prejudice, and given to enjoyably flamboyant flourishes of Australian vernacular". 

    He initially insisted that any challenge to his senate position had "as much chance of running as a dinosaur fossil" since the truth always comes out in the end "like a dag in a bale of crutchings". 

    *   *   *

    Leaked NSW treasury documents spruiking the sale of the land titles registry reveal that it made $190 million in revenue and $130 million in profit in 2015-2016. 

    The request for expressions of interest, co-authored by investment bank JP Morgan, says the winning bidder would gain "first mover advantage" in capturing title registries in other states. 

    The document is forecasting a continuation of the property boom, with the addition of "approximately 1.8 million titles over the next 40 years" - on top of the existing 3.9 million registered titles in the state. 

    The estimated sale price of Land and Property Information is around $2 billion, and the government has flagged it will spend the proceeds on revamping and rebuilding large sporting stadiums.  

    *   *   *

    Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus has given notice that he intends to begin contempt proceedings against the attorney general if an FOI request relating to a portion of George Brandis' diary is not processed within 14 days. 

    "Enough is enough," said Dreyfus, who made the original FOI request in May 2014. 

    In December 2015 the AAT found "no practical refusal reason" existed to support the argument that processing the diary would be too burdensome. 

    Brandis' appeal to the full Federal Court was unsuccessful. Five months later, in defiance of the court findings, nothing has happened. 

    "This is beyond a joke," Dreyfus said. 

    *   *   * 

    Gleeson and Kiefel: wrong yearJustice Susan Kiefel was sworn-in as the 13th chief justice of the High Court. The swearing-in was conducted by Justice Virginia Bell, but the Financial Review illustrated its story in its print edition with a photo of Kiefel being inducted to the High Court by Murray Gleeson in 2007.  

    The Sydney Morning Herald reported that when Kiefel was sworn in as a Queensland barrister in 1975 her actor brother Russell sent her a message saying: "Welcome to the acting profession." 

    She thanked him, but said she would be writing her own lines. Russell died a few days before his sister's appointment as chief justice was announced. The new CJ told the ceremony in Canberra on January 30, that she was "heartened" by "expressions of goodwill and support". As an indication she is aware that there is populist resentment against judges who apply the law, the CJ added: 

    "I am mindful, however, that it is possible that compliments could in the future be replaced by criticism, from other quarters. I shall therefore bask in them, but only briefly." 

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