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Gregg's baked goose: Aussie jury convicts Group boss for false accounting.

FCRO Subsection: 
Bryan Edwards

Just because a CFO has his hand on the cheque book doesn't mean he can write cheques for anything he likes.

Gregg had tried to gag media coverage of his case by launching libel proceedings but the judge in the civil case ordered it adjourned until after the criminal trial, opining that, if Gregg was convicted, there would be no realistic prospect of success. it is expected that the defendants will move for the dismissal of those claims, probably with orders for costs to be paid by Gregg. Australian media is careful to say that Gregg was "not involved in" nor even "aware of" the Unaoil dealings.

The Leighton Holdings case has thrown up another issue: protection of whistle-blowers. Stephen Sasse, formerly in a senior position with the Group, has been vocal, including before a parliamentary committee, about the extent of alleged misconduct within the Group and the benefits paid to senior officers, including on retirement. Sasse was "forced out of the company as a result," says the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, the entire Unaoil issue is exercising the authorities in both Monaco and the UK where the Serious Fraud Office has charged some people and is attempting to extradite two sons of the company's founder, Ata Ashani. The Australian Federal Police are also investigating several matters. In related cases in the USA, Rolls Royce and others have paid substantial penalties to settle charges under the USA's anti corruption laws.

The case draws specific attention to the need to look at what's happening inside a company, even at the highest levels, not only external factors when considering financial crime risk. Whether the payments were some form of corruption, embezzlement or something else has not yet been made clear and hopefully more detail will emerge with the publication of the judgment on sentencing.

 


 

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