ASIC pushes for disqualifications for former James Hardie directors

Australia’s Business Day has reported that The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) wants seven former non-executive directors and three former executivesĀ  at James Hardie banned from company directorships for at least five years each and fined a total of $2.8 million to $3.4 million.

Justice Ian Gzell began hearing submissions on exoneration, penalties and costs this week after finding in April 2009 that ten former executives and directors breached their duties to James Hardie when they approved a misleading company statement about asbestos compensation in February 2001. That outcome saw a number of resignations from high profile Australian boards, as noted on Manifest-I in May.

James Hardie’s former managing director Peter Macdonald has agreed with ASIC that he should be fined and banned from company management for his role in the board’s approval of the statement . But Mr Macdonald’s barrister, David Studdy, SC, suggested a smaller fine and shorter ban than recommended by ASIC. ASIC are seeking a disqualification of 12 to 16 years and a fine of between A$1.47 million and A$1.81 million, whereas his lawyer contends that a disqualification period of five to seven years and a fine in the range of A$200,000 to A$250,000 is more appropriate.

Bans and Penalties Sought by ASIC
Director Former Role Disqualification Period Sought Penalty Sought
Peter Macdonald Managing Director 12-16 years A$1.47m-A$1.81m
Peter Shafron General Counsel 8 years A$320,000-A$450,000
Phillip Morley Chief Financial Officer 6 years A$150,000-A$200,000
Michael Brown, Michael Gillfillan, Meredith Hellicar, Martin Koffel, Dan O’Brien, Greg Terry and Peter Willcox Non-executive directors 5 years A$120,000-A$130,000

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