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Barry Lane
7 May, 2007  
Bankruptcy - the path to true wealth

Barry Lane gets all hot and bothered about bankrupt fraudsters squirreling a few quid away, courtesy of friends and family. Uncle Ray Williams looks like the latest in a distinguished line-up

imageHere we go again, I thought as I read Elisabeth Sexton’s report about Ray Williams (pic) in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The whole thing smacks of another of those ridiculous, time-consuming and expensive bankruptcy investigations that produce nothing of benefit – except to the bankrupt crooks, their lawyers and assorted hangers-on.

It might be too early to tell but I think that when Uncle Ray emerges from incarceration and bankruptcy in the not too distant future, he’ll resemble that flourishing fraudster from the West, Alan Bond.

He’ll be out of the nick, surrounded by very wealthy relatives who’ll provide the where-with-all to enable him to live out the rest of his life in the style to which he’d become accustomed.

Since Bond’s release from prison and discharge from bankruptcy, he and his family have gone from strength to imagestrength, if relatively recent reports are any guide.

Bond Family Inc is now into diamond and gold mines, an oil company and a new $4 million mansion at Cottesloe beach in Perth.

Doubtless, Bond’s former trustee Bob Ramsay would have loved to have got his hands on the cash used to finance these enterprises.

I don’t want to put a moz on Williams’ bankruptcy trustee, Mark Robinson, but is he going to be any luckier than the late Chris Skase’s trustee, Max Donnelly?

After 12 years’ investigation and $2.65 million of taxpayer’s funds, Max got nowhere in his valiant attempts to recover any of Skase’s absconded millions.

Alas, and most unfortunately for creditors and taxpayers, the position has been much the same with others, such as former rag trader Abie Goldberg, late of the Linter Group, now in Poland and doing very nicely thank-you.

In view of all of this, here is my question: when is the Commonwealth going to get serious and enable bankruptcy trustees and company liquidators to get stuck into any relatives and friends who conspire with these fraudsters to quarantine misappropriated assets?

Legislation similar to that which enables the confiscation of assets acquired with the proceeds of crime would be an excellent start.