Archive for May, 2009

Colombian drug money, NATO and other tales

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Firepower went in so many directions it was impossible to get all the strands into my book. So I thought I would share some of the  research that never made it, the cuttings that fell on the floor, so to speak. Probably the most intriguing was an incident that took place back in 2003 when a man was arrested by Dutch police on suspicion of laundering USD$250 million allegedly belonging to a Colombian drug cartel. He was a Dutch NATO officer called Willem Matser. Not just any old officer. Matser was an advisor to the head of NATO at the time, Lord Robertson, and was a former officer in the Dutch intelligence service. It became a huge scandal in Europe and one of the names dragged, albeit indirectly, into the affair was Ovidiu Tender, a prominent Romanian.

According to the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Tender had joined up with Matser and the United States firm Halliburton – the firm associated with former US vice president Dick Cheney – to try to get control of Petrom, the Romanian national oil company. One of the others working behind the scenes trying to take over Romanian oil interests at the time was Frank Timis, the Romanian-Australian convicted of heroin possession now said to be working with Tim Johnston, from Firepower fame, setting up Green Power Corporation in London. Timis was said to have business links with Tender.

Also working around the edges of the various business deals – real or imagined – at the time was Guenter Nolte. Readers of my book will also recognise Nolte, the one-time head of Halliburton in Germany and one-time head of Firepower’s European operations, such as they were. 

Again according to the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Ovidiu Tender and the Canadian Stephen G. Roman and his father Stephen B. Roman, were involved, in the late 70s-early 80s in the Romanian-Canadian project that built the only Romanian nuclear plant in Cernavoda, near the Black Sea. During those years, the Romans, father and son, travelled in Romania as the Canadian government representatives and as directors of the Canadian Zemex and Denison Mines corporations. In an interview, Frank Timis told the Centre that: “After 1990, when I came back to Romania with Stephen Roman I was amazed how well he kenw Bucharest, He knew it better than me. He’s been here many times”.  

There is no direct connection between Roman and Firepower but there is an indirect link. You will notice the name Michael van Rens on the boards of several of Roman’s companies. Readers of my book will recognise van Rens – a former Channel 7 journalist from Perth – as one of the interesting people who figures in Firepower.

I am not suggesting wrong-doing by anybody. Just pointing out what a small world it is. Make of it what you will.

The company you keep

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Two Labour peers are facing suspension from the British House of Lords – the first since 1642 – after a report found them guilty of offering to amend legislation in exchange for payments. The Lords privileges committee found that Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn had “failed to act on their personal honour” after they offered their services to undercover reporters from the Sunday Times posing as lobbyists who wanted to amend government legislation. Followers of the Firepower saga will recognise Lord Truscott as an associate of Frank Timis, the convicted former heroin user who is said to be building the new FirepowerGreen Power Corporation – in London with Tim Johnston.

More investors than I thought

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

News to hand of a massive investment in Firepower by a household name. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that this person could have been sucked in, given that the investment was made at the end of 2007 – after I had been warning about the company for nearly a year. All will be revealed as soon as I dot the eyes and cross the tees.

More interesting emails

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Again my thanks to Gary Adshead of The West Australian for sharing some more emails from the early days of Firepower. Those who read my book will see the involvement of the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop, in the saga. She was the one who introduced Tim Johnston to the Prime Minister, John Howard. Johnston dined with Howard twice at the Lodge, the PM’s official residence in Canberra. That later gave rise to Johnston’s boast to shareholders that he was helping to steer the Australian Government’s approach to climate change. Though there is no suggestion that Ms Bishop was acting in any way inappropriately – other than being a Minister for Science who believed in a magic pill and other than being a good friend of Les Stein, the former judge advising Firepower at the time – her unfortunate involvement in the saga is probably something she would now like to forget. But back to the emails. Ms Bishop once said her first involvement with Johnston was in late 2005 through Western Force rugby team. But these emails show her office, at least, was dealing with Firepower representatives much sooner than that. Again, I am not suggesting wrong-doing. Just tellin’. Ramli is a low-level Firepower technician who was based in Singapore. He never did get resident status and was one of those eventually dudded by Johnston.


—–Original Message—–
From: Melony Darroch [
Sent: Thursday, 7 August 2003 4:12 PM
To: Tim Johnston
Subject: FW: Ramli Bin Isnin
Hi Tim,           
This is new territory for me so….
I contacted Julie Bishop’s office (Member for Curtin) as I remembered Andrew was handling something to do with Ramli migrating/visiting last year and he had contacted their office seeking assistance.  Apparently the visa that Ramli eventually chose was a visitors visa for himself and his family to come to Australia for a short period only.  I think that was so his wife could see what Perth was like etc.
Anyway, Marion has provided some advice regarding Ramli migrating to Australia.  It would appear that Ramli needs to handle this matter himself as he knows what his family’s needs are, type of visa required etc.   A Migration Agent might be the way to go to get this processed quickly.
Obviously Marion will be able to assist from our end should there be any delays/problems once he has lodged his application.
Melony Darroch
Office Manager
Ph: +61 8 9242 8988
Fax: +61 8 9242 8488
This Email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and are intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed. This communication represents the originator’s personal views and opinions, which do not necessarily reflect those of TPS Firepower Pty Ltd.  If you are not the intended recipient, then please deleted this message immediately – any other use is strictly prohibited.  If you receive this in error, please immediately <>
—–Original Message—–
From: Lehman, Marion (J. Bishop, MP) [
Sent: Thursday, 7 August 2003 3:46 PM
To: Melony Darroch
Subject: RE: Ramli Bin Isnin
Dear Melony
I suggest you find out the following directly from Mr Bin Isnin, as second and third hand news often gets confusing:
Has he lodged an application to migrate to Australia?
·       If YES:
·       What is the name and sub-class of the visa he applied for (eg: Short Stay Visitor visa, sub-class 676);
·       Place of lodgement;
·       Date of lodgement;
·       Full names and dates of birth of all individuals included on application;
·       If NO:
·       He needs to determine which visa application would best suit his needs and circumstances. As he will be best aware of his circumstances, it would be appropriate for him to contact DIMIA Singapore or <> to investigate his options. He may also choose to engage a Migration agent for assistance and advice.
·       Once he does that, he should lodge his application.
If you have any queries or wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me again.
Kind regards
Marion Lehman
—–Original Message—–
From: Melony Darroch []
Sent: Thursday, 7 August 2003 5:18 PM
To: Lehman, Marion (J. Bishop, MP)
Subject: RE: Ramli Bin Isnin
Hi Marion,
Thank you for your reply to my query.
Mr Tim Johnston (CEO – Firepower) is meeting with Ramli in Singapore next week and will discuss with him his application and what he has done to date.  I assume he would have lodged his application there as I can find no evidence of any documents being lodged here on his behalf.
Do you have a contact at DIMIA who I can speak with to go thru the process of Ramli migrating to Australia.  This is new territory for me so I would appreciate any advice you can provide.
Once again thank you for your time and assistance…
Melony Darroch
Office Manager
Ph: +61 8 9242 8988
Fax: +61 8 9242 8488
This Email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and are intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed. This communication represents the originator’s personal views and opinions, which do not necessarily reflect those of TPS Firepower Pty Ltd.  If you are not the intended recipient, then please deleted this message immediately – any other use is strictly prohibited.  If you receive this in error, please immediately <>
—–Original Message—–
From: Lehman, Marion (J. Bishop, MP) [
Sent: Thursday, 7 August 2003 2:18 PM
To: Melony Darroch
Cc: Shannon, Andre (Sen D. Johnston)
Subject: RE: Ramli Bin Isnin
Importance: High
Dear Melony
Thank you for your email requesting assistance in matters relating to the migration application of Mr Bin Isnin.
As I recall, Mr Lane initially requested advice regarding the types of visas available to Mr Bin Isnin and family. Ms Bishop enquired of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) and their response was conveyed to Mr Lane by email from Ms Bishop, 26 July 2002.
Mr Lane then requested support for a Visitor visa application lodged by Mr Bin Isnin in Singapore, and in this regard Ms Bishop wrote to Michelle Grau Principal Migration Agent of DIMIA Singapore, sent by facsimile 1 August 2002.
I am unsure of the details of any migration application lodged by Mr Bin Isnin and despite my extensive search this morning, and my emails to Senator Johnston’s office and the investigations of the Senator’s office, I can not find any evidence to suggest that we were made aware of such an application. Perhaps if you would send me your copy of the correspondence which initially informed us of Ms Bin Isnin’s migration application, I would be better able to follow up the progress.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely
Marion Lehman
Office of Julie Bishop MP
Federal Member for Curtin
—–Original Message—–
From: Melony Darroch []
Sent: Thursday, 7 August 2003 11:36 AM
To: Lehman, Marion (J. Bishop, MP)
Subject: Re: Ramli Bin Isnin
Hello Marion,
I am hoping that you will be able to assist me.  Around July/August 2002 discussions were held between yourself and Mr Andrew Lane from our office regarding a letter of support for Ramli Bin Isnin.  Documents on file indicate that details were forwarded to Senator Johnston’s office and also Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Was this in relation to Ramli and his family emigrating to Australia, if so I need to get this moving again.  I would appreciate whatever assistance/advice you can provide.
Melony Darroch
Office Manager
Ph: +61 8 9242 8988
Fax: +61 8 9242 8488

The early days

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

My thanks to Gary Adshead of the West Australian for sharing an email with me that harks back to the early days of Firepower. If you read my book you will see that the now-famous Firepower dragon symbol was borrowed from an early investor called Li Haidong. To add a little intrigue to the matter, Haidong worked for the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco – the same firm sanctioned by the United States in 2003 for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran. Here, in full, are the words Haidong sent to Tim Johnston before abandoning ship:

September 12, 2003
Tim Johnston
Firepower Group
Dear Tim,
September 11th of this year happened to be traditional Chinese moon festival, a festival that we Chinese value much for family reunion and harmony. On this same say I received an extremely unpleasant letter from you, bringing the message that is 180° contrast to a festival greetings. Your behavior reminded me of the terrorist attack two years ago. I will remember you together with this date, for my whole life.
What you are claiming against me is absolutely nonsense. I have checked your so-called “proof and evidence” picture from Tianjin out of curiosity and found out it is another product sample that I sent to them for cement industry. The Chinese name is similar but this product is used for enhancing number of cement. Your spy girl who made tens of  phone calls to Tianjin is not sophisticated enough to tell the difference.
I would like make clear to you that both Bounty Firepower and Tianjin Success are independent companies, none is the subsidiary of your company. I definitely have the right to develop other businesses with my partners, as long as it is not in conflict of interest with you. I do have a lot of other business with Mr. Jiang, such as steel, crude oil and cement, but it is none of your business and I have no obligation to report or disclose to you.
But this accident revealed the fact that you have been playing tricks behind my back for a long time. You have breached our fundamental agreement and understanding that I handle the marketing arrangement in China and you organize technical support. Out of trust to you, every time when I complained to you that your people were having unnecessary discreet communication with Mr. Jiang’s secretary, I thought that was only individual behavior. Now it has proved that all these conspiracy were directed and planed by you, with the intention of grabbing fruits to your pocket in a proper time.
It is nothing strange for you. In Russia, you cut off Sasha who brought you through the door to Russian Railways. In Indonesia you cut off Tanto who did a lot of ground work and organized the structure in place. In Europe you cut off Michael van Rense who opened the door and built the platform for you. In Singapore, you cut off Jefrey Lee who did excellent launch and organized one of the most convincing test result in Asia. In China you are now trying to repeat the same trick, thinking the apple is now ripe for collection.
You are dreaming! In China, it is the most disgraceful misconduct for a man to destruct the bridge after crossing the river. Nobody likes to get close to a person of this nature. This time you think you have crossed the river and it’s time to destruct the bridge. Wrong, Tim, you are just in middle of the river. Result? You will be struggling in the water! Try your luck, you will find out the result in a hard way.
Don’t be foolish to think you are controlling the lifeline of me or my partners in China. With the current foundations and market attraction in China, we can easily get a world class company to cooperate with us. I have never thought of doing so before, as I value the friendship between us and enjoy the challenge of building a giant together. And it is not my character to turn against my partners, even in the most difficult situation. It has been my believe to work hard hand in hand with my partners and enjoy fruits together. But it is no longer possible from now on.
Don’t overestimate your technology. There are tons of similar products and technology available in the market. I am sure many technologies are much matured than what you are holding. Look at the route we have gone through, virtually every step of way there was technical failure, which caused repeated setback in the market. Should there be a matured
technical support I could depend on, the market in China could have taken off long time ago. If not for my input, your procedures may still be incomplete up to now.
This letter took me 5 days to finish. It is very painful for me to deny my own long time faith that you are a kind, trustworthy and dependable friend and partner. I have to admit I was wrong.
On the other hand, I will be a totally free man from now. I don’t have to engage myself with any commitment to you any more. All my friends related to previous Firepower business, including my Indian friend Ganesh, have voted to stand together with me. I will not be the party who suffer loss in the market. You made the choice and you have to face the result. No one else is to be blamed.
Before I say goodbye to you, Tim, remember my advice. To make successful business, firstly you need to learn how to be a good standing man, a man of principle, integrity, a man of trust and a man who can win respect from others. Maybe one day in the future, you will fully understand my meaning.
Good luck to you and your business.
Sincerely yours,
Li Haidong

For those wondering

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

I had a little time on my hands today so I went searching the legal tomes to see how the various civil legal actions (you need to click on the + or – signs to view the various lists) are going against those accused of selling Firepower shares. It looks like the cases against some are being separated out, as each seeks to distance themselves from Tim Johnston. Here you will see that the allegations against Les Stein – the former chief judge of the WA planning appeal tribunal, a former professor of law and close friend of the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop – will be heard soon. The main argument seems to be about when Mr Stein received his shares, some which he is then alleged to have sold through his private company Sattvic. He is concerned about the on-going damage to his reputation caused by the Firepower affair. No surprise there. Tim Johnston has helped destroy more than reputations. As you will read in my book, Mr Stein was once the legal adviser to Firepower and he has told me in the past that he took copious legal advice at the time that everything he was doing was above-board and perfectly legal.

A roar goes out

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Andrew Logan over at The Roar has added some more history to one of the many characters in New Zealand who form the many parts of Tim Johnston’s life. My thanks to those who pointed the link out to me. I’m wondering if we might be able to piece it all together one day and work out just who Tim Johnston is? I’m told that Johnston had two sisters, one of whom used to live in Sydney. She may have been an air hostess. But other than that, little of his childhood in Brisbane is known.

The sordid truth

Monday, May 4th, 2009

At the risk of  being accused of pointing to favourable articles allow me to direct everyone to today’s opinion section of the Sydney Morning Herald. Good to see someone peering past just the sporting heroes who were misled and pointing the finger of blame towards the government authorities who stood idly by and allowed this mess to occur. You gotta ask: why?

More hope for shareholders

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Perth’s Sunday Times newspaper has an interesting article suggesting there could be new legal actions taking place shortly against those who sold Firepower shares. Probably more significantly are the comments from Firepower liquidator Bryan Hughes that he might force the key figures in the company collapse to be publicly examined. But of course the person with most of the answers – Tim Johnston – is still overseas.