Sunday, November 07, 2021

Federal Court slams criminal case against ANZ as a 'complete shemozzle'

ANZ now off the hook after the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions spent 3 years running around in circles. They could not specify exactly what the ANZ did wrong.

Government regulators tend to be lax about case preparation as they think nobody will have the funds or courage to take on the government. They think people will fold immediately. There have been some atrocious cases of that in Britain, notably the prosecution of Vincent Tchenguiz by the Serious Fraud Office. Their bureaucratic arrogancee cost the SFO many millions

But the ANZ is a big beast so was not afraid to take on the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Prosecutors have abandoned a long-running criminal cartel case against ANZ and one of its senior executives, Rick Moscati, after the Federal Court described the matter as a "complete shemozzle".

The court also said the committal hearings — where a magistrate decides whether there is sufficient evidence to take the matter to trial — were "long, drawn out and ultimately ... fairly pointless".

In an embarrassing blow, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) was ordered to refile its indictment, for a third time, because it was "deficient and defective".

Despite the setback, the CDPP has decided to proceed with its criminal prosecution against banking giants Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, which are also defendants in this matter.

Criminal test case

In June 2018, ANZ, Deutsche and Citi were prosecuted for being "knowingly concerned in alleged cartel conduct".

It is essentially a form of alleged collusion — and the matter was the result of a two-year investigation by the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

This case arose from ANZ's decision to raise extra cash from institutional investors, by issuing $2.5 billion worth of new shares in August 2015.

Citi, Deutsche and a third major global bank, JP Morgan, through some of their most senior executives, allegedly came to an understanding on what to do with any shares that were unable to be sold.

Often, there aren't any left over — but this time almost a third of the shares, worth about $790 million, did not sell.

JP Morgan is not facing charges because it blew the whistle and was granted immunity.

This is seen as an important test case because criminal cartel charges had never been brought against an Australian bank before.

For companies, the maximum fine for each offence is either $10 million, or three times the total benefits that have been earned and are "reasonably attributable" to the commission of the offence (whichever is greater).

For individuals, the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $420,000, or both.

'Complete shemozzle'

Justice Michael Wigney did not mince words when he criticised the prosecutor's handling of the case on Wednesday morning.

"It would not be unfair to characterise the situation concerning the state of the indictment as a complete shemozzle," he said.

The judge also said it was "entirely unsatisfactory" that the indictment had not been finalised — three years after the banks and their executives were first charged, and about six months before the trial was due to commence.

The CDPP filed its first indictment (which outlines the criminal charges) against the banks and its executives on February 1.

But it was ordered to file a new indictment by July 7 because the charges were poorly explained and "defective" — partly because of the "complex nature" of Australia's cartel legislation.

The same thing happened again on Wednesday's hearing (November 3). In a brief summary of the judge's decision, the Federal Court noted:

"The accused argued that the charges did not sufficiently describe the nature of the offences that they were alleged to have committed because, for the most part, the charges were entirely bereft of particulars and simply repeated the words of the relevant offence provisions."

Justice Wigney decided to give the prosecutor a third chance — and a November 24 deadline to file yet another set of indictments.

Instead of trying again, the CDPP decided to abandon its case against ANZ and Mr Moscati, but is pressing ahead with its prosecution of Deutche and Citi.

In a statement, ANZ's chief risk officer Kevin Corbally said: “We maintained all along ANZ acted in accordance with the law in relation to the placement.

"We defended the bank and Rick on that basis and we are pleased the matter is now behind us."


Palaszczuk government attempts to ‘censor’ political rivals with social media giants

Digital Editor Jack Houghton says the Palaszczuk government “embarrassed itself yet again” by attempting to censor political rivals critical of the state’s COVID-19 messaging.

The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath wrote to Twitter, asking them to ban Opposition Frontbencher Jarrod Bleijie from the platform for his tweets.

Ms D’Ath described the tweets as: “Undermining not only public confidence in the vaccine, but the Queensland Government’s rollout of the vaccine, which could ultimately lead to vaccine hesitancy and harm to Queenslanders”.

According to Mr Houghton, her bid “thankfully” failed. “But this is a crazy move from an administration which tweeted anti AstraZeneca misinformation in the heat of the pandemic,” he said.

“In fact, Annastacia Palaszczuk herself spread vaccine hesitancy on social media by falsely claiming that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not safe for those under the age of 40.

“Her government completely botched vaccine messaging and they are now trying to say that criticisms of Palaszczuk’s false information tweets are the real fake news.

“This is something Queenslanders must not forget.”


Muslim ignoramuses plead guilty to seeking genital mutilation of a baby girl in Perth

A Perth mother and grandmother have avoided being sent to jail for planning the genital mutilation of a newborn baby girl.

The 23 year-old-woman had given birth to the child two weeks earlier and, in January this year, she and her mother, who was aged 50 at that time, went to a doctor in the Perth suburb of Canning Vale seeking female circumcision.

In order to protect the identity of the child, the ABC has chosen not to name the women.

The District Court of WA was told the grandmother, who was described as "extremely persistent", wanted the procedure done straight away and when the doctor refused, she offered to pay cash.

State Prosecutor Danielle Clarke said the doctor managed to convince the women there was a problem with Medicare and so they left the practice.

Their actions were reported to the authorities after the father of the child became aware of what the women were planning.

They both pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to unlawfully perform female genital mutilation.

The court was told that, since being charged, neither of them had been able to have any contact with the child.

Women sought 'lowest level' of genital mutilation

The grandmother's lawyer, Richard Lawson, told the court the procedure his client was seeking was the lowest level of genital mutilation, as ranked by the World Health Organisation.

He said it is less invasive than the other levels and that his client, who was of Malaysian heritage, and her daughter, had had the procedure performed on them.

He accepted that the grandmother had known the practice was illegal in Australia but, he said, she thought if they went to a Malaysian doctor, no one would know what happened.

Mr Lawson said his client, who has since undergone cultural awareness counselling, was deeply remorseful and now regretted her actions.

The mother's lawyer, Alana Taylor, said her client had agreed to consult a medical practitioner as part of a "desire to appease others". "There were underlying threats of going to hell if she wasn't following the religious notion," she said.

Ms Taylor said the woman was also facing the challenges of having her first child. "As a first-time mum, she felt pressures to conform and the notion of being 'the perfect mother'," Ms Taylor said.

The court was told she had also since undergone counselling and was fully educated and understood the procedure and the complications associated with it.

She had also not been able to have any contact with her daughter which, Ms Taylor submitted, was already punishment for what she had done.


Campus lies, damned lies and statistics

Bettina Arndt

What does it say about Australia that a student writing to me doesn’t dare give his name for fear his letter could be traced back to him?

Concerned Student wrote to me last month after being asked to complete the National Student Safety Survey, which has just been distributed to over 400,000 random students on our campuses:

“As I was completing the survey, I was shocked and alarmed at how the survey had seemingly been deliberately constructed in a way likely to produce results that will exaggerate perceived rates of sexual violence on campus and thereby distort and manipulate public opinion and policy. The authors have applied definitions of sexual assault and harassment that are so broad they conflate normal interactions between men and women with heinous and brutal acts of violence. This is an injustice to survivors.”

Concerned Student very helpfully sent screen shots of all the questions he responded to in the survey. And he’s on the money. The National Safety Survey is all about cooking the books – asking biased, leading questions aimed at proving there’s a rape crisis on our campuses.

The activists are having another go following their disappointment over the 2016-million-dollar survey from Australian Human Rights Commission which found only 0.8 percent of students reported any type of “sexual assault” per year, even including incidents such as a grope from a stranger on the train to university. The AHRC disguised these disappointing results by claiming widespread campus “sexual violence” which was actually mainly low-grade harassment like “unwanted staring”. Universities were bullied into establishing a huge industry staffed by Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH) bureaucrats and counsellors, supporting secretive committees running kangaroo courts adjudicating sexual assault.

Every year activists run more campaigns claiming universities are not doing enough. Just two months ago a group of protesters interrupted a speech by ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt, claiming the university had done nothing to protect students from the dangers of SASH. Schmidt groveled to the students saying he was prepared to put in unlimited resources to address the problem. “But there’s no easy fix. It’s a wicked problem.”

Let’s face it. It ain’t easy wiping out unwanted staring. But now this righteous man will have to battle new scourges - “loitering” and “invading personal space”.

These are the latest additions to the ever-expanding definition of sexual harassment included in the new survey. To make Brian Schmidt’s wicked problem even more challenging, “inappropriate staring” is now just “staring”. It’s hard to imagine any student who could say they have never been subjected to staring. And even if they have never been stared at themselves, surely everyone could tick the box asking if they had witnessed this happening to anyone else on campus?

Who could deny experiencing someone “making comments or asking intrusive questions about your private life, body or physical appearance”? As we know, one person’s compliment is another’s intrusive question in an era where even using the wrong pronoun could be seen as an inappropriate comment on a private life. Tricky stuff, indeed.

It gets worse. The section on harassment of students now includes, “Making requests for sex or repeated invitations to go out on a date.” So, apparently you are only allowed to ask once for a date – twice is harassment.

But isn’t “making requests for sex” exactly what the feminists demand in their new enthusiastic consent laws? The new survey labels that as harassment yet all sexual acts including kissing are now deemed sexual assault if your partner “made no effort to check whether you agreed or not.”

It is all pretty confusing. But none of this should come as a surprise when you consider who is in charge of this survey. Meet self-described “feminist criminologist” Dr Anastasia Powell who has built her career on promoting feminist views on enthusiastic consent and similar issues. Interesting that University Australia happily promotes the fact they are funding advocacy research through the choice of this ideologically driven scholar.

Even though enthusiastic consent is not yet law in most Australian states, Powell and colleagues have slipped this into the survey, which is bound to greatly expand the number of events students regard as sexual assault. Students are told that any sexual experience, including a kiss, which lacks that prior check for consent is now sexual assault. Ditto intoxicated sex of any kind. The survey defines all sexual acts as assault if you were “affected by drugs or alcohol.”

Concerned Student isn’t a sexual assault survivor, so he wasn’t able to send through all the questions that apply for self-defined victims. I’ve been making strenuous efforts to get hold of the whole survey but unsurprisingly, Universities Australia is keeping that firmly under wraps. I sent through a series of questions asking why they were withholding this information. Their response was simply to state the survey and results will be published early 2022: “Universities Australia is committed to transparency, and the public release of the results, along with the survey instrument, is testament to that.”

From the questions we do have available it looks like there’s been another big shift. While the previous survey asked questions about events taking place in 2015-16, in the new survey the timing seems to be open-ended – the events could have happened anytime. So, a mature age student could report on any event from 30-40 years ago, but their experiences are claimed as evidence of our current campus rape crisis. Neat, isn’t it?

Similarly, the new survey appears to be not confined to campus events but includes sexual acts happening anywhere to the student, and not just involving other students as perpetrators. The survey explicitly and repeatedly invites responses about non-campus incidents. “We’re interested in ‘all of your experiences – whether they happened in ways connected to your university, or at other times and places in your life’.”

The survey also asks students to report on not only their own experiences but also if another student from their university “told you, or you suspected, that they may have been sexually assaulted in a university context.” So, the data will include not just hearsay evidence – say, something you read in a student newsletter - but students’ own fanciful assumptions about what might have happened to another person.

Similarly, they are asked if they had witnessed another person being sexually harassed. The survey itself points out that sexual harassment is about conduct which the recipient regards as unwelcome, or leaves them offended, humiliated or intimated. Yet they assume that it’s ok for other people to make that decision for the other person. Wow, this is taking manipulation of data to a whole new level.

This new survey hits campuses after four years of solid propaganda telling students they are facing a rape crisis, compulsory sexual consent courses for staff and students, endless misinformation in the media promoting the idea that young women are at risk. Students today are far more likely to see themselves as victims than they were when the first survey came out. Back then, the self-selected students who answered the survey were an unrepresentative 10 per cent of the total sample. Now End Rape on Campus activists will be hoping for a far better turn out as reward for their constant advocacy.

Universities Australia is rightly stating the results from the two surveys can’t be compared, given that so much about the survey has changed. But what’s the bet that next year our biased media will use this manipulated data to scream blue murder about increased sexual violence and the mighty SASH industry will have their hands out seeking more money to tackle the growing crisis?

In 2017, I was the only journalist in Australia to report we should be celebrating the good news from the AHRC survey – that there was no rape crisis on our campuses. At that time, I was very fortunate to have the assistance of Chris Lloyd, professor of business statistics at Melbourne University, to ensure I analyzed the results of the survey accurately. I asked Chris to compared key questions in the current survey to the previous one.

“Universities Australia claim to be serious about measuring levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. Ambiguously worded surveys with very low response rates are no way to achieve this,” said Chris, adding, “I cannot see anything scientifically useful emerging from what I have seen of this new survey.”

As Concerned Student points out, we need to consider the impact of this survey on the way young men and women relate to each other – messages bound to be reinforced in the endless campus propaganda promoting the rape crisis.

“It is encouraging young women to perceive any uncomfortable or awkward sexual experience as a violent sexual violation, and it is casting benevolently intentioned young men as sexual predators. How many men will undeservingly have their lives and reputations shattered because of this rhetoric?’’

That's so right. It is male students who are the targets of this never-ending campaign to encourage women to redefine disappointing sexual misadventures as sexual assault. For their sakes, we all have to find ways to speak out and expose this malicious, ongoing social engineering.




No comments: