Australia’s corporate watchdog has adjourned the criminal case against Bellamy’s former director due to restrictions caused by the CCP virus. It’s the second time this year the watchdog has delayed a hearing against the Tasmanian businesswoman, Jan Cameron.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) accused Cameron of failing to disclose a substantial holding in the baby formula company, Bellamy’s Organic, when the company went public on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Aug. 1, 2014.
Cameron and her associate, the Black Prince Private Foundation, held 14.74 percent of Bellamy’s total issued capital—about 14 million shares.
Under the Corporations Act, a person must lodge a substantial holder notice with the company and the relevant market operator, such as the ASX, if a person holds more than 5 percent of the voting power.
Cameron is also accused of misleading the watchdog when she “failed to properly disclose her true and complete relationship with Black Prince” upon lodging an “initial substantial holder notice” on Feb. 15, 2017.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron denied having a personal interest in the Black Prince Private Foundation, which in 2017, controlled the largest block of Bellamy’s shares. The Black Prince Private Foundation was registered in Singapore and is based in the Caribbean tax haven of Curacao.
After calling for a shareholder meeting in 2017 to usurp the four independent directors at Bellamy’s, it was found that Cameron and her long time lawyer Rodd Peters were behind the shareholding. Additionally, both Cameron and Peters were directors of a charitable organisation called Elsie Cameron, which answers to Black Prince.
“There is an expectation that the Black Prince Private Foundation would act (concerning its Bellamy’s shares) per the wishes of the Elsie Cameron Foundation as expressed by the directors of its trustee, that is Jan Cameron and Rodd Peters,” Bellamy’s informed the ASX, as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017.
Cameron confirmed on January 2017 that the Elsie Cameron Foundation was the beneficiary of any dividends paid by Bellamy’s, or of any profit generated from the sale of shares held in Bellamy’s.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Cameron said in 2017 that she was “naively hoping” to keep the donation to the Elsie Cameron Foundation private, rather than “splashed across the news.”
“Just because it’s in a tax haven, it’s got nothing to do with tax issues,” she said. “As you know, the Elsie Cameron Foundation doesn’t pay tax anyway. People who think this is a tax dodge are completely wrong.”
Other business interests in Cameron’s portfolio include outdoor apparel brand Kathmandu, which she founded. She later sold 51 percent of the company for $247 million (US$155 million)—making her Australia’s fourth-richest woman in 2006, reported Business News Australia. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron invested in other retail brands, which later failed and devoured most of her fortune.
In November 2019, the Foreign Investment Review Board approved the $1.5 billion (US$940 million) take-over of Bellamy’s by China Mengniu Dairy Company. Cameron was reported to have received $300 million (US$188 million) from the sale of her shares in December 2019.
Cameron served as director of Bellamy’s from 2007 to 2011. She faces imprisonment for a maximum of five years and six months, a fine of $38,250 (US$24,047) or both; the maximum penalty in August 2014 for breaching two sections of the Corporations Act.
The criminal case is rescheduled for hearing at 9:45 a.m. on July 24, 2020, at the Hobart Magistrates’ Court.
The Australian Associated Press contributed to this report.