by Alan Thornhill
Craig Thomson has been granted bail today, after being sentenced to 12 months’ jail, on fraud charges
The magistrate said the offences, committed by the former National Secretary of the Hospital Services Union National Secretary and Labor MP, reflected “brazen arrogance.”
However he suspended nine months of the sentence and Mr Thomson was expected to serve just three months.
But that changed after Mr Thomson’s lawyers appealed.
He was then granted bail.
The appeal is to be heard in November.
by Alan Thornhill
International support for a global rule-book to protect investors against rising cyber crime is growing.
The Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Greg Medcraft, spoke of this development, as he opened the commission’s Annual Forum in Sydney today.
“Advances in technology have led to the rise of cyber crime throughout the world,” Mr Medcraft said.
“Cyber crime is a systemic risk.
“And I think it is the next black swan event,” Mr Medcraft warned.
“It is an issue that’s captured the interest of global policy makers, including the G20.”
Mr Medcraft said regulators throughout the world “need to be able to rely on one another.
“To do that we need trust and confidence,” he said.
He said there would be several requirements to achieve this.
These would include “as global rule book, with measures to promote consistent regulation between jurisdictions in financial services markets.”
Co-operative supervision, between regulators would also be necessary, Mr Medcraft said.
Cross border enforcement, too, would be essential.
by Alan Thornhill
We all like to be sure that the money we donate to charity actually helps the people we intended to support.
A small body, known as the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission, has helped to provide that assurance.
It was, perhaps, a little obscure.
But those in the know say it has been very effective.
Charities, big and small, support it.
But the Federal government is planning to scrap it.
That’s part of its campaign against “too much” bureaucracy and red tape.
However charities such as Save the Children and the John Ambulance, Australia, want the Commission to be preserved.
They are among 40 charitable organizations which have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, asking him not to proceed with his plan.
Tim Costello agrees.
“The Commission is actually working for us,” he said.
“And it gives the public confidence.
“It underpins the consumer benefit to charities,” this prominent aid worker said.
A Labor MP, Andrew Leigh, insists that the government’s plan poses big threats.
“The not for profit sector employs one million Australians,” he says.
Dr Leigh said no less than five reviews, including one by the Productivity Commission, have said Australia needs a national charities Commission.
But we may soon be without one.
by Alan Thornhill
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has declared full support for his Assistant Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos.
Mr Abbott made the declaration, after the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, challenged him on the issue, at question time in Parliament.
As question time opened, Mr Shorten asked Mr Abbott: “does the Prime Minister retain full confidence in the Assistant Treasurer?”
Mr Abbott replied: “The short answer is yes.”
Senator Sinodinos is one of several people, connected to Australian Water Holdings (AWH), who are under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
On Monday the Commission heard claims that Senator Sinodinos – a former AWH board member – stood to make $20 million from an infrastructure deal awarded to the company by the state-owned Sydney Water Corporation in January 2012.
But the Senator told Parliament today that he would be “vindicated” in relation to his involvement with this company, which is linked to a disgraced NSW Labor figure Eddie Obeid.
The Prime Minister stood firmly behind Senator Sinodinos, praising his service both before and since he entered Parliament.
Mr Abbott said people in public life should be there to serve their country, not themselves.
The matters being debated before the Independent Commission Against Corruption are important, Mr Abbott said.
But they related to a company, not to any individual.
“The Senator has kept the Parliament up to date on these matters,” Mr Abbott said.
by Alan Thornhill
Australian investors had lost $16 billion through fraudulent managed investment schemes since 2008, a financial intelligence expert told a Senate Committee today.
Niall Coburn, who was giving evidence to the Senate Economic References Committee, described this as “mums’ and dads’” money.
He said one man, who was being investigated over suspected fraud, had been able to restart business “500 metres down the road” under a different name.
Mr Coburn named that man as “Mr Drake” of LM Investments.
He said that man had re-opened for business as Australian Global Insurance Services.
Mr Coburn, a former investigator for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, told the committee that ASIC needs a well trained response team, to deal quickly with challenges like this.
Referring to MIS fraudsters, Mr Coburn asked: “Who are they to steal money from mums and dads, who work hard all their lives?”
The Committee’s Chairman, Senator Mark Bishop, said other witnesses, who had appeared before it, had said that ASIC’s response to large scale fraud had improved significantly, over the past year or so.
Mr Coburn disagreed.
He said people taking complaints to ASIC were often met by untrained, inexperienced staff, who did not know what to do.
He also said that old style Ponzi schemes had largely been replaced by fraudulent managed investment schemes, over recent years,
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is giving $1 million, to help reduce violence against women.
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. announced this early today, at a White Ribbon ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra.
He said the Government would provide that amount to the White Ribbon campaign to help reduce violence against women, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
“For the past decade White Ribbon Day has been working to stop violence against women through education, preventative programs, partnerships and creative campaigns,” Mr Abbott said.
“The Government is committed to doing all it can to stop any form of violence against women,” he added.
Mr Abbott said one in three Australian women over the age of 15 has reported experiencing physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
He said the funding announced today would expand the activities of the White Ribbon campaign with a particular focus on new and emerging culturally and linguistically diverse communities across Australia.
“This commitment builds on our plans to ensure the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children 2010-2022 is implemented,” Mr Abbott said.
“I am proud to be one of nearly 2,200 White Ribbon Ambassadors across Australia working to create a cultural shift that leads to the end of violence against women,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
The Greens want a parliamentary inquiry into links between Reserve Bank and the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Their Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt, says he also wants to know why the Australian Securities and Investments Commission didn’t investigate these links, after they became public some years ago.
However ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer insists that ASIC did investigate the matter thoroughly.
“We reviewed more than 10,000 pages of documemts,” Commissioner Tanzer said.
“Any action we take must be based on facts and evidence – and must stand up in court,” he added.
He noted, also, that Australian Federal Police have already laid charges on two related matters.
Mr Bandt’s call follows new claims of illegal approaches to Saddam Hussein’s regime.
They arise from activities of two RBA note printing subsidiaries, Note Printing Australia and Securency, as they sought note printing contracts with the Iraqi regime.
These include allegations that these firms breached UN sanctions, which were in force at the time.
Mr Bandt said the investment watchdog is still “turning a blind eye to the RBA’s corporate activities.”
“Most Australians would be shocked to know their central bank was using their money to line up dirty deals with Saddam Hussein,” Mr Bandt said.
“The stench surrounding the Reserve Bank gets worse and a full inquiry is needed to clear the air,” he added.
Fairfax media and the ABC’s Four Corners program have been following these developments.
Both are publishing new claims today.
Mr Bandt said: “The claim that RBA officials misled Parliament is disturbing.
This arose over evidence that the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens gave to a Parliamentary Inquiry three years ago.
“When Parliament resumes, the Greens will move to have RBA officials appear before a parliamentary committee to answer these serious allegations.”
“Also appalling is the utter failure of ASIC, our corporate regulator, even to investigate sustained claims of wrongdoing within the corporate activities of the Reserve Bank,” Mr Bandt said.
“ASIC throws the book at a lone global warming activist who sends out a press release, yet turns a blind eye to repeated claims of sustained corporate corruption in the Reserve Bank,” he said.
“The Greens will ask ASIC to explain to Parliament why it has failed to investigate serious and repeated claims of illegality within the RBA’s corporate activities,” Mr Bandt added.
The Australian Wheat Board, which has also been accused of bribing Saddam Hussein’s regime, will be watching these developments closely.
by Alan Thornhill
Kevin Rudd today announced a Federal takeover of the Labor Party’s New South Wales Branch, that will permit automatic suspension or expulsion of corrupt party members.
This follows a report on the matter from the State’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, on deeply seated corruption in the branch.
The intervention also means that property developers will be automatically banned from seeking Labor party pre-selection in the State.
It will be the first Federal intervention in the NSW branch for 40 years.
Addressing reporters in Canberra, the Prime Minister said he had an obligation to act, after the ICAC report.
He said the intervention is also part of his plan to transform Labor into a modern party.
“The Labor party I lead will be a more modern party,” Mr Rudd said.
He was speaking shortly before he was due to leave Australia for a leaders’ meeting in Indonesia.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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