1. 1,268 Posts.
    Alan Kohler

    Did fear stay Emini's hand?

    The central mystery in the collapse of Opes Prime Stockbroking is: why didn’t the managing director Laurie Emini make those margin calls?

    The firm was sunk and thousands of lives and companies thrown into turmoil by his failure to make margin calls on six clients for a total of more than $200 million. One of them, we know, is Chris Murphy, the Sydney criminal lawyer, but the other five have not been named.

    Now we find that Melbourne underworld figure, Mick Gatto, has taken off for Singapore to follow the money trail and recover funds on behalf of an anonymous group of Opes investors.

    It makes you wonder whether it wasn’t so much misguided loyalty to friends that motivated Emini’s failure to make those margin calls, but fear.

    Asked by The Age about Mick Gatto’s “clients”, barrister Nicola Gobbo said: “Some would be described as business people, if you very loosely used the term 'business people'."

    Gatto himself said: “These Opes Prime clients can take their chances and lose all their money to lawyers and to the receivers, or they can take their chances with me to extract a return on their behalf. The proof is in the pudding with me. I solve problems…It's my way or the highway."

    So the man who shot Benji Veniamin in 2004 and was acquitted on the grounds of self-defence, is now acting as a sort of alternative collection agent to the administrator, John Lindholm of Ferrier Hodgson, and the receivers, Chris Campbell and Sal Algeri of Deloittes. Or perhaps he is their uninvited enforcer.

    Who are Mick Gatto’s “clients”? Are they associated with the five so far unnamed clients of Opes who were let off from getting crucial margin calls?

    Laurie Emini was on a train to nowhere as he tried to cover up the margin call holes by shuffling other clients’ assets around, effectively eating into the firm’s capital buffer. He must have known that it was only a matter of time before he was found out and the firm went to the wall.

    But if Mick Gatto and his scary mates were the Opes clients to whom Emini was failing to send margin calls, then the mystery of why he did it is probably solved.

    If not, then what on earth is Mick Gatto up to?

arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch. arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch.