Saturday, March 17, 2007

Santo Santoro

He resigned as Minister and needed to resign. A disgrace – one oversight is not easy to explain but 72 are totally impossible. JWH was angry and rightly so – this undermines him and the government. The Liberal Party faces annihilation in Queensland with the scandals there and the faction-driven politics.

Santoro has a record of attacking bias at the ABC. Indeed, last week his office contacted me and complained about inaccuracies in a post I made on his business alliances. At the time I did not assert anything. Given the share deal fiascos these alliance issues should be investigated.

This isn’t mud-throwing – it’s the stand-alone issue that MPs are supposed to declare their financial interests with ministers having the additional requirement of declaring them to the Prime Minister.

Update: Commentator Sir Henry C. points out that Santoro's share deals include deals that seem to overlap with concerns of his portfolio including aged care. A reasonable question is whether insider trading has taken place or not.


Sir Henry Casingbroke said...

From this morning's News Ltd papers:

"Senator Santoro, however, has admitted to owning shares in two other companies - Nomad Buildings Solutions and Senetas Corporation. Both are involved in the retirement and health sectors, and were purchased after he was appointed a minister. "

Could it be more than mere ministerial impropriety? Insider trading perhaps? The late Rene Rivkin ended up in the pokey over a single trade of a very trivial amount.

What is “insider trading”? Below is a handy definition from the US SEC:

"Illegal insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include “tipping” such information, securities trading by the person “tipped,” and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information.

Examples of insider trading cases that have been brought by the SEC are cases against:

Corporate officers, directors, and employees who traded the corporation’s securities after learning of significant, confidential corporate developments;

Friends, business associates, family members, and other “tippees” of such officers, directors, and employees, who traded the securities after receiving such information;

Employees of law, banking, brokerage and printing firms who were given such information to provide services to the corporation whose securities they traded;

Government employees who learned of such information because of their employment by the government ... "

I note that Andrew Bolt, the egregious warrior for the right, as well as booster and unofficial PR hack for the Coalition, this morning on Insiders TV program, put the boot into (a) Santo (b) the PM and his Santo clause (c) Peter Debnam and the NSW Liberals, (d) the dismal performance of Coalitions at state level, and also reckons that John Howard's startegy of fighting the next election on Iraq is a doomed strategy.

I am reading between the lines here : the Bolter has been given instructions - forget getting behind the Libs from now on.

The reason for this is simple. Newspaper proprietors like to be on a winner. If they consistently back a loser then it is evidence that their power is greatly overrated. And they don't want to encourage such notions in case governments start to ignore them, especially when it comes to making laws regulating the media.

hc said...

Sir Henry, If these facts are correct it further cements the case against Santoro.

He seems to have close alliances with people in this industry. It would be wrong for him to have purchased such stocks anyway given the clear presumption of a conflict of interest.

A full inquiry is in order.

The Liberals face annihilation in Queensland. Have you yet placed your money ion Labor?

Sir Henry Casingbroke said...

Indeed I have, just as I have backed Manly v the Raiders, winning hansomely. I got $2.10 on fed Labor, which is now at $1.80. I must say I filled my undies when the Burke stuff broke (I'd bet beforehand) but the odds have firmed substantially in the aftermath.

With regards to Santo: the facts of his trading shares, and last-resort underwriting them, are correct because Santo himself confirmed them.

Whether this constitutes insider trading can only be tested by litigation by the relevant authority, ASIC.

I suppose there must be an element of proof that the minister knew of a regulation or legislation that could materially affect the price of a security and then acted upon it by buying oe selling that security.

Speaking generally, there is a brazeness and self belief here underscored by the quote from Santoro's press release, one attributed to Bruce Lee, to wit:
"Defeat is not defeat unless accepted as reality in your own mind".

This is a similar attitude to that held Conrad Black (see Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge by Tom Bower - thoroughly recommended, Harry; I cannnot urge you too strongly to read it, trust me on that one), i.e. a belief in the unassailability of one's own position - everybody else is either bliunded by jealousy, out to get you or mad. It's a kind of psychopathology that informed his attacks on the ABC.

I am amused by the fact that another senator, one Alston, also had a near-death experience with share-trading and conflicts of interest that was not declared, but the shares were allegedly hewld by his 96 year old mum. Alston, you will recall, was Santo's predecessor in the ABC pursuit business beforehand. I am struct by the symmetry.

I am not sure that the Liberal Party can walk away from Santo entirely, having used him as a head kicker and frontline soldier, much less reward him by way of a sinecure overseas.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

Harry - were you saying above that Santoro's office were contacting you about a blog post here?

hc said...

Yes someone contacted me a week or so ago. I had mentioned his friendships with firms involved in the aged care industry. He didn't ask me to withdraw the comments though I did anyway - it seemed a half-decent complaint at the time.

But now - given his share trade record - I am unsure and have included the basic point in the post above.

My assumption is that Santoro's career in politics has run its course.

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