Archive for August, 2009

Finnin goes to jail … more on Johnston

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

For those of you who have yet to catch up with the news, John Finnin has gone to jail for between eight and twelve years. The former Firepower CEO was found guilty of child sex offences by the Victorian County Court.

Meanwhile this story by Sean Cowan was carried by the West Australian newspaper on Wednesday, 26 August. I repeat it in full because it didn’t appear on the web:


Firepower boss Tim Johnston has been ordered to pay more than $12 million to WA mining entrepreneur Ross Graham over the collapse of the fuel technology company.

Mr Johnston, who has lived a reclusive life in London since fleeing Australia early last year in the wake of the Firepower fiasco, personally guaranteed a $9.73 million loan from Mr Graham’s private company Rolen Pty Ltd to Firepower in 2007.

The money was never repaid and Rolen launched legal action against Mr Johnston in the WA Supreme Court last year. Master Craig Sanderson has ordered Mr Johnston to pay back the money with interest — a total of $12,302,758.88.

But Rolen’s legal team has been unable to serve Mr Johnston with several legal documents and were last week forced to withdraw their Federal Magistrate’s Court application to have him made bankrupt.

There is little hope that Rolen, or Mr Graham, will recover any of the money.

Mr Johnston has few assets and was not represented when Master Sanderson made his ruling because he had not paid his Eastern States-based law firm.

While Mr Johnston is also understood to have an interest in one of eight luxury cliff-front villas in the Asmara development in Nusa Dua, Bali, investigations have yet to confirm whether he is the registered owner. A sprawling Gold Coast property where lawyers recently tried to serve him with legal papers is registered to his wife Sandra.

Meanwhile, the Firepower saga continues to be played out in several different courtrooms as the corporate watchdog pushes for sanctions against the defendants and investors try to recover some of the estimated $100 million that was lost when Firepower collapsed.

Last month, Quentin Ward became the first financial adviser to be punished for his dealings with Firepower when the Australian Securities & Investments Commission banned him from providing financial services for eight years.

ASIC is also civilly prosecuting Mr Johnston, Mr Ward and the private companies of businessmen Warren Anderson, lawyer Les Stein and former police minister Gordon Hill for allegedly breaching the Corporations Act by raising funds for Firepower without issuing a prospectus.

In June, Mr Hill became the first target of investors trying to recover their money when lawyers for litigation funder IMF (Australia) lodged a Supreme Court writ claiming $5 million.

Finnin facing years in jail

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

John Finnin, the former CEO of Firepower  and a man who was once one of Australia’s most senior diplomats, is facing years in jail after being found guilty of more than 20 child sex offences, a court has been told. One of the points being used against Finnin in court is his lack of remorse for the alleged offences. One of the points made in his defence was that he has contributed to the community through his work. Firepower shareholders could be forgiven for wondering why Finnin is the only person facing jail and why no police force has attempted to investigate the fraudulent aspects of Firepower.

Austrade reponds

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Austrade claims to have suddenly remembered a lot about the circumstances surrounding the employment and eventual departure of John Finnin, including details the organisation appeared unable to answer when asked about them in the Senate in February 2007. When first asked 9 very direct questions, they refused to answer. Then, four days later – after I go ahead and publish my stories – the organisation answers some of them. One of the many issues is that Austrade’s answers appear to contradict evidence given in the Victorian County Court – by Finnin himself. So what exactly is at the bottom of all of this?

Who knew what, when

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

For those who have yet to catch up, here are my stories on how the Australian Trade Commission told one of its most senior diplomats that he was under police investigation for alleged child sex offences, allowing the man to resign quietly and return home, where he later repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old Victorian schoolboy. Those familiar with the Firepower story will recognise John Finnin as the former Firepower CEO. Take the time to scroll down to the end to see the questions and answers. Meanwhile some horrific evidence came out in court, which can now be revealed. The suppression order that had applied has been lifted now that the case is over. Finnin maintains his innocence.