Mmm – Isn’t misleading the ASX a corporate offence?

A world of pain awaits a company named the CIMIC group today.

You will know this company better as Leightons. Or John Holland. Or Thiess. Or Visionstream. Or Henry Walker Eltin (HWE).

CIMIC own them all plus more, including CPB Contractors – which used to be Leightons; Pacific Partnerships and Devine, the Queensland based property developer (we’ll have more to say about Devine at a later stage).

Right about now – in fact at this very moment – the CIMIC are in an absolute world of pain, for they also own a company named Leighton Offshore.

And over your corn flakes this morning you are going to find yourself reading that in among the international bribery scandal to beat all international bribery scandals that has been facilitated and operated by a company named Unaoil, our very own Leighton Offshore have been sprung bribing bribing Iraqi officials with tens of millions of dollars to win lucrative contracts for the construction of oil pipelines and export facilities.

Now this story is not a new one, and has been floating around for a couple of years, but until now no-one has been able to pin the company down with any cold hard evidence of bribes paid to Iraqi officials, either directly or through a middle-man. But now it appears that a group of journalists have.

The expose is a brilliant piece of journalism resulting from a sixth month joint investigation by Fairfax and the Huffington Post, and clearly there is going to be a staged toll out of the stories because they are tagging the first batch as Day 1. The business world is going to be rocked, and if you hold CIMIC shares I suggest that you may wish to be calling your broker right now and screaming down the phone Sell! Sell! Sell!

As I can add nothing to the content of the first in the series of articles published at midnight I I will simply invite you to read the Fairfax story here.

What I can add however is the observation that where there is smoke there is fire, and there has been plenty of smoke surrounding the CIMIC group in recent years, in fact a veritable bushfire full of it.

I will add to that the dictum that leopards never change their spots, and take it a tad further by saying corporate leopards who have developed a business strategy with a proven record of successs never, ever change their spots.

And thus I draw your attention to the following Queensland Government contracts won by Leightons in recent years – there are plenty more in other States, and even more won by other companies in the CIMIC group – and pose this simple question:

How did they win them?

Time for a Royal Commission anyone?