Murphy was Opes 'catalyst'
The problem account of Sydney lawyer Chris Murphy was a "catalyst" for the collapse of broker and securities lender Opes, the company's founder and one-time chief executive officer, Lirim "Laurie" Emini, has told a court.
"There was probably one single client at the end of the day that was the catalyst for what happened at the end," Mr Emini has told the dishonesty trial of Opes Prime director Julian Smith.
Opes Prime, which had more than 650 clients, collapsed in March 2008 owing creditors about $630 million.
Mr Smith has pleaded not guilty to two charges of dishonestly breaching his duties as director of companies in the Opes Prime group. Each charge carries a maximum jail term of five years.
Mr Emini told the court on Friday that Mr Smith was aware the shares of a key client, the mining identity Norm Seckold, were being used as a buffer.
Mr Seckold told the court this week that he was not aware his Bolnisi Gold and Kings Mineral shares had been transferred to Riqueza Holdings, a company associated with Opes that saw dozens of cash and share transactions to its sub-accounts until Opes' collapse.
Mr Emini also said Mr Smith's knowledge of securities lending was "second to none", and said it was a "bit harsh" to suggest some Opes clients did not receive margin calls. His testimony followed a week of witnesses, including Opes chief operating officer Dean Boyle, who spoke of approaching Mr Smith about his concerns on the negative equity position of $78.5 million in Mr Murphy's account.
Mr Boyle said Mr Smith "rolled his eyes and said, 'Dean, you don't know what Laurie, Anthony and I have got. Put a stop to this shit now and get on with your job'."
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges that as Opes Prime teetered on the brink of collapse, Mr Smith wrongly pledged assets belonging to two Opes Prime companies in order to secure a $95 million loan to Leveraged Capital, a company associated with Messrs Smith and Emini.
The trial continues.