Archive for November, 2009

A dramatic few days

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

I picked a bad time to go overseas on business, given all the the drama over the past few days. It began on Thursday when, as predicted, Firepower boss Tim Johnston failed to turn up to court. That led to an application for his arrest. The usual delaying tactics continued when Johnston applied for further leave to have his heart examined – stress and fear for his safety apparently. The new deadline appears to be Tuesday, when the Federal Court will sit again to discuss whether or not he is able to front the court and face a public examination over the $100 million collapse of Firepower. Even his old mate Warren Anderson is wondering what’s going on.

Will he or won’t he?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Angry investors hope discredited Firepower boss Tim Johnston will face a very public humiliation in Perth this week, reports The Sunday Times. Johnston, who fled Australia owing millions amid the spectacular collapse of his controversial fuel-additive company, is due to be quizzed in the Federal Court on Thursday. He will be questioned about the missing millions by a legal team headed by liquidator Bryan Hughes. Johnston is also likely to face an angry mob who lost money investing in the magic pill he claimed could increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. 

There has been growing speculation that Johnston may not make his first appearance in Perth since March last year, when he left the country. If he does not turn up at the Federal Court, without an excuse, by 10.15am investigators will ask for a summons to be issued for his arrest. But he could send a “sick note” through lawyers, asking to be excused from the hearing.

My sources tell me that Johnston spent some of this week in Manly, Sydney after being reunited with his ex-French Foreign Legion bodyguard. Those same sources allege the same bodyguard was once shared by the slain stand-over man Michael McGurk. Not at the time of the slaying, it should be said.

Johnston heading towards bankruptcy

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Interesting story in the Sunday Times in Perth revealing that discredited Firepower boss Tim Johnston must find at least $12 million in the next two weeks or face personal bankruptcy.  Johnston, who flew into Australia last week after fleeing to London in March last year owing millions from the collapse of his fuel additive company, must repay Perth mining entrepreneur Ross Graham. Readers of my book will remember that Graham sank about $26 million into Firepower on the promise he would be repaid handsomely when Firepower listed on the secondary stock market in London. One can only guess what other moves are planned by other creditors.

Johnston wants passport back

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

He’s only been back a week, but already Tim Johnston wants to leave our shores. The Firepower chief walked back into the spotlight yesterday for the first time in 18 months, making a brief appearance in a Brisbane court. His hair was noticeably greyer than two years ago when he rubbed shoulders with prime ministers and sporting stars and spruiked a magic pill for cars with the false promise it would cut fuel consumption.In the Federal Court yesterday his lawyer said he would ask for the return of Mr Johnston’s passport so he could travel overseas for business – a prospect that alarms the liquidator of the failed fuel additive company. Read on.

The place to be

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

It would seem the place to be on Monday, 9 November, is court room 20 D of the law courts building in Queen Square, Sydney. Justice Antony Siopsis is scheduled to hear matter WAD195/2009 – ASIC V Timothy Francis Johnston – at 2pm, with video links to the Federal Court in Perth (11am) and Brisbane (1pm). As I reported in the SMH today, this is the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s attempt to keep Firepower mastermind Tim Johnston in the country until such time as they get around asking him how his company collapsed so spectacularly. According to court documents filed in Perth, such orders would allow ASIC to complete a three-year investigation that could lead to civil and criminal action. The orders would give Firepower liquidator Bryan Hughes, investors and creditors an opportunity to take action to recover losses. Of course none of this would even be happening if Johnston hadn’t come back, of his own accord, on Monday. Yet one can’t help but wonder if he will turn up to the court in person, given the trouble the liquidator is having serving Johnston with another order asking him to appear before a public examination on 26 November. On that date, Registrar June Eaton is due to conduct a public examination involving Johnston at the Federal Court in Perth at 10.15am. Johnston reportedly has however complied with a court order to hand over his passport.

Johnston in Queensland

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Elusive Firepower boss Tim Johnston has been served with an injunction that will force him to stay in Australia to face questions over the $100 million collapse of the fuel technology company, according to the West Australian. And here’s more from the Brisbane Times.

Of course, you never know with Tim Johnston. I’ve been inundated with rumours of his leaving the country. He allegedly has three passports. Equally, I have been reassured he is holed up in his $5 million house at Donegal Crescent, Sorrento. That’s Sorrento on the Gold Coast, not Victoria.

Major news – Johnston returns

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Firepower boss Tim Johnston faces a Federal Court injunction to keep him in Australia after he flew into the country for the first time in 18 months this week.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which is probing the loss of $100 million of Firepower investors’ funds, made an urgent application yesterday to force Mr Johnston to stay in Australia.

The corporate watchdog was last night trying to alert every Australian airport capable of handling international flights about the ban.The commission was also trying to serve the failed fuel technology company chief with a copy of Federal Court Justice Tony Siopis’s order that he hand his passport in to the court’s registry in either Brisbane or Perth by noon tomorrow.

Read the rest of this West Australian scoop here.