It was a bad day for senior Australian business leaders yesterday in court.
First, Keith Hunter, a former senior technology executive at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for bribery offences.
Justice David Arnott in the NSW District Court sentenced Mr Hunter, 62, for “dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception” and “corruptly receiving a benefit”.
Hunter and another CBA colleague had allegedly received a combined total of $2.9 million in bribes arranged by US technology entrepreneur Eric Pulier in return for CBA awarding $10.5 million in IT contracts to
Mr Pulier’s US software company, ServiceMesh.
As a result of the contracts, ServiceMesh secured an additional $US98 million from Computer Sciences Corporation the year after it was acquired by CSC for $US163 million in 2013.
Police claimed Mr Hunter received about $US630, 000 in illegal kickbacks for assisting the plan
Mr Hunter had initially pleaded not guilty to the offices. He changed his plea to guilty in June. His former colleague Jon Waldron, a New Zealander who joined CBA in 2008 as executive manager of database services, has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the same set of events. Mr Waldron’s case is still before the courts.
Mr Hunter, an American citizen, joined CBA in 2011 as executive general manager of IT delivery systems.
The CBA sacked him after discovering suspicious payments being made to his CBA account, and his account in New Zealand with Auckland Savings Bank (ASB) owned by CBA.
Mr Hunter faces additional legal proceedings in the United States after he is released from jail.
In September, he was charged with criminal and civil offences by the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
These offences carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.
The SEC has also filed civil charges against Mr Hunter for securities fraud. He has agreed to settle those charges.
And in another important court story, former Billabong chief executive Matthew Perrin was found guilty of the fraud of millions of dollars by a jury in the District Court in Brisbane.
Perrin, 44, allegedly forged his then-wife’s signature on mortgage documents to get more than $13 million finance from the Commonwealth Bank.
During the trial, Perrin took the stand claiming his then-wife, Nicole Bricknell, had given him authorisation to sign documents in her name – including the Commonwealth Bank mortgage application.
Perrin also forged the signature of his brother, lawyer Fraser Perrin, on the same loan application in 2008.
Ms Bricknell told the court that Perrin had admitted to the forgeries during a January 2009 family gathering at their home.
She said he was on the ground crying saying he was “going to jail”.
The jury took just over a day to reach a verdict.
Perrin, who faces up to 12 years in jail, was remanded in custody and is likely to be sentenced in the new year.
The court heard Perrin and Bricknell made about $60 million from their stake in Billabong when it was publicly floated in 2000.
They lived in an $8 million Gold Coast mansion but they lost their money after Perrin’s investments in a Chinese supermarket franchise failed, leaving him owing tens of millions of dollars to creditors.
Perrin was eventually declared bankrupt in 2009.