Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bouncing cheques force Hastie retreat from UAE amid arrest fears

By Business editor Peter Ryan

A former senior executive of the Hastie Group has fled the United Arab Emirates fearing he was about to be arrested for bouncing cheques.

As AM reported last week, a number of post-dated cheques were issued by Hastie in the months and weeks before the company collapsed in May.

It's been confirmed that at one cheque has been dishonoured which opens the likelihood of serious prison time for Hastie's former regional chief executive Gavin Appleby.

Mr Appleby, whose signature appears on the cheques, has fled the UAE with his wife and family to the safety of Norway fearing a maximum of three years prison for each bad cheque.

The cheques - written before Mr Appleby resigned from Hastie in January - were to cover salaries, food and accommodation for around a thousand foreign labourers employer by Hastie in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Four remaining Hastie managers have used their own funds to cover the labourers' costs as they negotiate new work and full termination entitlements as required under UAE law.

One manager, Darren Hunt, is urging the company's Australian-based administrators to help telling AM last they needed to "get their arses over here".

Mr Hunt says the administrators, PPB Advisory, have rejected offers of assistance to sell assets and to recover outstanding debts.

However, administrators say it is not possible to help UAE staff who are not covered for entitlements under the safety net that exists in Australia.

Craig Crosbie of PPB Advisory told AM last week that Hasrie UAE staff were yet to provide necessary information on assets that could be liquidated.

Hastie's UAE bank accounts are empty and unable to cover cheques after A$3 million was transfered from Dubai to Sydney just days before the company was placed in administration.

Twitter: @peter_f_ryan

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Barclays boss Bob Diamond resigns over LIBOR fixing scandal

Here's the statement released a short time ago by Barclays:

Board changes

Barclays today announces the resignation of Bob Diamond as Chief Executive and a Director of Barclays with immediate effect. Marcus Agius will become full-time Chairman and will lead the search for a new Chief Executive. Marcus will chair the Barclays Executive Committee pending the appointment of a new Chief Executive and he will be supported in discharging these responsibilities by Sir Michael Rake, Deputy Chairman.

The search for a new Chief Executive will commence immediately and will consider both internal and external candidates. The businesses will continue to be managed by the existing leadership teams.

Bob Diamond said "I joined Barclays 16 years ago because I saw an opportunity to build a world class investment banking business. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented, client-focused and diligent people that I have ever come across. We built world class businesses together and added our own distinctive chapter to the long and proud history of Barclays. My motivation has always been to do what I believed to be in the best interests of Barclays. No decision over that period was as hard as the one that I make now to stand down as Chief Executive. The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise - I cannot let that happen.

I am deeply disappointed that the impression created by the events announced last week about what Barclays and its people stand for could not be further from the truth. I know that each and every one of the people at Barclays works hard every day to serve our customers and clients. That is how we support economic growth and the communities in which we live and work. I look forward to fulfilling my obligation to contribute to the Treasury Committee's enquiries related to the settlements that Barclays announced last week without my leadership in question.

I leave behind an extraordinarily talented management team that I know is well placed to help the business emerge from this difficult period as one of the leaders in the global banking industry."

Commenting, Marcus Agius said, "Bob Diamond has made an enormous contribution to Barclays over the last 16 years of distinguished service to the Group, building Barclays Investment Bank into one of the leading global investment banks in the world. As Chief Executive he has led the bank superbly. I look forward to working closely with the Chief Executives of our businesses and the other members of the executive Committee in leading Barclays world class businesses in serving our customers and clients and delivering value for our shareholders."