Ex-Howard Minister Fined for Neglected of Duties

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Former Howard government minister Michael Wooldridge has been fined $20,000 and banned from managing a corporation for two years over his role in the collapse of a nursing home operator.

Dr Wooldridge was one of five directors of Australian Property Custodian Holdings Limited who was found by the Federal Court to have neglected their duties.

Judge Bernard Murphy found the directors’ conduct gave rise to a serious breach of trust after a listing fee of $33 million was wrongfully paid to director William Lewski.

Mr Lewski has been fined $230,000 and banned from managing a corporation for 15 years for his role in the matter.

Judge Murphy said the conduct of Dr Wooldridge and two other directors, Kim Jacques and Mark Frederick Butler, was significantly less blameworthy but broadly similar to Mr Lewski’s.

“Rather than acting in the best interests of the members and putting the members’ interests first, they capitulated to the interests of Mr Lewski,” Judge Murphy said.

The fifth director and former Places Victoria chairman Peter Clarke was less culpable, Judge Murphy said.

He disqualified all directors, except Mr Clarke, from managing a corporation for a period.

Mr Clarke was ordered to pay $20,000.

Mr Butler and Mr Jaques were disqualified from managing a corporation for four years and ordered to pay $20,000 each over the action brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

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