Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Crown versus Rich White Wanker et al.

David Richwhite, the well-known merchant banker and erstwhile director of Tranzrail, and several colleagues are up on charges of insider trading relating to their shareholding of Tranzrail. His company bought $31 million worth of shares as part of a consortium in 1993. They sold the stake in 2002 at $3.60 a share to financial institutions for a profit of $87 million with a further $10 million for advisory fees. Shortly afterwards, the share price of Tranzrail sunk like a stone and was trading at 30c a share in the middle of 2003. The Securities Commission press release is here.

If you're wondering how supposedly smart business people could make such an obvious effort of looting the till, the answer is that this is the first case of insider trading being brought by the Securities Commission. Previously it was pretty much open season for insider traders which is why the share-market took so long to recover after 1987.

The charges couldn't come to more deserving people. Richwhite was the business partner of Michael Fay, an obnoxious creep, whose principle claim to fame was that he tried to win the America's Cup through the Courts and expected everybody to kiss his behind for doing so. The Americans paid him back with his own coin by winning the races using a catarmaran. Richwhite was almost invisible by comparison but he was involved in the Winebox affair, which involved dodgy deals in the Cook Islands. He only appeared in the public eye following a cackhanded attempt by his assistant Michelle Boag to film witnesses when they were giving evidence before the Wine Box Inquiry.

The other people charged are Michael Beard (the fat controller of Tranzrail until he received a $3.37 million golden handshake earlier this year for three long years of incompentent management), Mark Bloomer (former chief financial officer of Tranzrail) and Carl Ferenbach (another Tranzrail director).

My only regret is that it is a great pity that the charges don't seem to carry prison sentences.