CBD

Gore to this than meets the eye?

Gore to this than meets the eye?

If the corporate watchdog is to be believed, the Gold Coast is not the only sunny place favoured by bankrupt property developer Craig Gore, the son of Sanctuary Cove developer Mike.

In allegations denied by Gore and yet to be tested in Federal Court, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges a complex web of companies in the US, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands were used to misappropriate $4.5 million from self-managed super funds.

The tropical tax havens are always attractive, and if the constitution of one of the companies allegedly involved in the Caribbean piracy, Syndicated Property Group Arizona, is to be believed, they are also a great place to be a company director.

According to the document, the British Virgin Islands-registered company is not just allowed to pay directors remuneration - which is to be fixed by, er, the directors - and their expenses. It is also allowed to pay a "gratuity or pension or allowance on retirement to any director who has held any salaried office or place of profit with the company", including by paying premiums to purchase the retirement benefit.

Just who was entitled to this benefit remains a mystery. Unlike Australia, where company directorships are a matter of public record, the BVI keeps such irrelevant details secret.

Board walk

They will be needing a smaller boardroom table at Rupert Murdoch's Melbourne outpost, the Herald & Weekly Times.

The newspaper legend Julian Clarke, Murdoch's sister Janet Calvert-Jones and stalwart lieutenant Reg Cordina are stepping down from the board of the News Corp subsidiary.

Clarke is the only one of the three to be replaced, with Calvert-Jones' daughter Penny Fowler keeping the Murdoch family link alive by stepping into the role. She is the wife of the former footy player Greg Fowler, who ran into a bit of trouble in the early '90s while running British insurer Trinity.

Trinity collapsed, bringing under scrutiny £10 million ($16 million) of transactions it and its sister company Bryanston had allegedly conducted with the Murdoch family vehicles Cruden Investments and Kayarem.

But that's ancient history, and CBD is more concerned about the signal a reduction in directors at HWT sends about the future of the subsidiary, which publishes the Herald Sun.

Xtraordinary

CBD is still none the wiser about the identity of the Australian executive working for a London-listed multinational who was lumbered with a huge tax bill after messing up his share options (CBD, Thursday). However, it seems likely the company for which he worked was Xstrata, which has since merged with Glencore.

CBD hears a number of Xstrata executives received options with the same exercise price of £7.349 at the same time, March 2004.

Whiteout

Worst press release of the week: real estate agent Ray White promised to dump "vague, flowery" language from its ads, with marketing boss Karen Hall saying people "prefer examples of tangible, distinct value".

No word on whether that would include advertising the reserve price. CBD also noticed the new "Ray White Know How" slogan is eerily similar to Westpac's old "we know how" tagline, dumped last year.

Best of the week: the real estate agent Fitzroys showed how it's done, with its effort, headlined "Massive Wieners expanding in Chapel Street". It was about a hot dog shop leasing bigger premises on the Melbourne disco strip. "The new Massive Wieners will bring a unique flavour to the area," leasing agent Harry Curtis said.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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