Packer Nears End of Appearance in OneTel Show

14 December 2005

Media executive James Packer's extended run in the witness box has done nothing to focus his hazy memories of the OneTel fiasco.

The Sydney Supreme Court heard on his ninth day of evidence that although he could remember attending a crisis OneTel board meeting the day before the company folded, he could not precisely recall the discussions.

He was appearing as a witness for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which is suing the company's former managing director Jodee Rich and ex-finance chief Mark Silbermann for A$92 million ($63m; €58m; £39m) compensation. They are alleged to have allowed the company to trade while insolvent for three months prior to its collapse on May 29, 2001.

Packer, son of Publishing and Broadcasting magnate Kerry, and his equally illustrious friend and fellow non-executive director Lachlan Murdoch, have both maintained they were misled about the telco's precarious financial state.

He said he was told OneTel did not need any more money only weeks before its collapse. Cash in the bank had fallen below A$30m but he claims Rich said although cash was tight and a fresh injection would be a good idea it was not essential.

PBL and News Corporation, both OneTel investors, lost around A$1 billion when the company failed.

The hearing continues.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff