Celebrity, Corruption & Captains: doing business in Queensland

If Capitalism has a definition it includes, 
surely value for money ... yet you pay 
an idiot a fortune for doing nothing, and it is 
hard to see why. And if he is a hereditary idiot, 
very hard to see why.     - Bob Ellis

Clive Palmer is fighting with the administrators of Queensland Nickel (QNI) over his company’s failure to pay redundancies to 240 workers at Yabulu, but, in terms of the number of victims, Indian Pearls corporation surpasses Palmer by conducting “a scam that appears to be one of the world’s biggest”.

“The Indian media is describing it as the largest fraud in the country’s history.”

A report from The Australian characterizes the ponzi scheme thus:

“Pearls promised generous returns to investors by supposedly rehabilitating degraded agricult­ural land and turning it into prime productive farming country.

Instead, the money went into the pockets of the directors, who lived lavish lifestyles and bought television stations, Indian cricket teams and invested the money in assets for themselves, including hotels and properties in Australia.

Its founder, Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, and other company director­s — mainly his relatives — were arrested last month on charg­es of criminal conspiracy and fraud. They are now in jail, having been refused bail while India’s Central Bureau of Investigation conducts a criminal investigation.”

The Queensland connections are manifold:

“The managing director and owner of Shac Communications (a Pearls subsidiary) is Simone Holzapfel, who was Tony Abbott’s chief polit­ical adviser for six years during the Howard government.

The Australian arm of Pearls was adept at working political connections. In October 2010, as part of a trade mission and Australia’s 2018 Commonwealth Games bid, a delegation led by then Queensland premier Anna Bligh and including then (Howard appointed) high commissioner to India Peter Varghese met with the Pearls Group.

Anna Bligh is best known as the premier of Queensland who sold the profitable public Assets (Queensland Rail) to multinational businessmen who proceeded to run it into the ground, cutting back services, failing to maintain infrastructure, cutting back on jobs and in the end taking the business to the verge of insolvency (Aurizon, a train wreck) while taking away huge buckets of cash for themselves and the mining moguls (Rinehart, Rio Tinto, Adani) they serve.

anna bligh sold us out
Electrical Trades Union billboard at Gladstone Road Highgate Hill, Brisbane
Peter Varghese

Peter Varghese was in charge of Office of National Assessments an Australian government intelligence agency which reported directly to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

When the Abbott Government took office in September 2013, Varghese oversaw the integration of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with Australian Agency for International Development. Varghese served as Australia’s High Commissioner to India. He is currently the Chancellor of the University of Queensland.

“The records show Ms Bligh directly­ dealt with requests from members of the Bhangoo family to obtain “state-sponsored” visas.

Mr Madrers said members of the Bhangoo family — the owners of Pearls — were planning to make the Gold Coast their princip­al place of residence,” the meeting records state.

The Premier said she had been briefed on the matter and the family’s place of residence was important. The state wanted to facilitate development and would have a dialogue with the family.

Visas made easy for board members of corrupt companies yes but not for refugees fleeing wars promoted by corporate elites and their friends in government.

One way out of this mess is to sack all the CEOs and the boards, confiscate their wealth, getting rid of politically appointed heads of commonwealth and state departments. If this is not practicable, then reduce their salaries to that of ordinary public servants and see how long they last.

A director general’s job is not to facilitate corruption.

Back to Clive Palmer who claims that it was the administrators who decided not to pay the 240 workers their entitlements. In law, Palmer is technically correct. The point is Palmer stripped the company of its assets to further his political career thus making it impossible for liquidators to find cash to pay the workers entitlements. Palmer’s tricks don’t change, he uses the law to cover-up his scam.

Ian Curr
February 2016

For the full article go to http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/brett-lees-celebrity-helped-ponzi-scheme-bowl-over-50m-indians/news-story/c6f292a153a4de1f48475aa3bceb2245



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