The founder of PeopleBrowsr, a visual dashboard for your online identities, which has received quite positive reviews since it launched late last year, has beaten the wrap on insolvent trading charges brought by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in relation to another of his startups, One.Tel.
Jodee Rich avoided the possibility of being banned from being a company director in Australia for more than a decade, as well as more than $92 Million in fines and approximately $20 Million in court costs, as the NSW Supreme Court handed down a scathing condemnation of the ASIC case against him.
The case, which revolved around whether or not One.Tel, the Telco he co-founded in 1995, traded while insolvent has reached into the upper echelons of Australian business and political circles.
As part of its drive to becoming a listed company with a $6 Billion dollar valuation, One.Tel brought on Lachlan Murdoch, eldest son of Rupert Murdoch and James Packer, now one of the richest men in Australia after the death of his father, Kerry, as major shareholders. The combined investment of the two organisations they represented was over $700 Million. When all was said and done, the two ended up losing over $1 Billion.
The story is familiar to many Australians because of the headlines caused when Packer and Murdoch came on-board and then when an administrator was appointed to the company in May, 2001. The Packers and Murdochs had competed for years across media in Australia and the joining of resources by the two heirs-apparent to the respective thrones signaled a new era for Australian big-business. In the end, and for reasons too many to go into here, the company ran out of money and each went back to their own corner.
For 8 years since then, ASIC had been vigorously chasing the enigmatic Rich and One.Tel’s finance director, Mark Silbermann.
In passing down his decision, Justice Robert Austin said that ASIC had “failed to prove any aspect of its pleaded case” and questioned why the Commission had chased Rich and Silbermann so intently while paying such little attention to directors Packer and Murdoch.
After the decision was handed down, it was reported that Rich had accused the then Prime Minister, John Howard, of using his brother, Stan, to pressure him to admit defeat and settle, as some of the other One.Tel directors had.