Opes Prime head ready to come clean over crash, says his lawyer
Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday March 22, 2011
THE head of the failed stockbroker and lender Opes Prime, Laurie Emini, is prepared to give a statement to prosecutors laying out his role in the group's collapse, a court has heard.Mr Emini's lawyer, Peter Fitzgerald, told the Supreme Court that after negotiations his client was "not that far away" from striking a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to criminal charges over the collapse."My client has indicated he will make a statement if required," Mr Fitzgerald said.Mr Emini and his fellow Opes Prime directors Anthony Blumberg and Julian Smith were appearing yesterday at a directions hearing after being charged by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission with offences over the failure of Opes Prime in 2008.Mr Smith and Mr Blumberg face four charges each of breaching their duties as a company director, and Mr Emini faces 26 similar charges. Each charge has a maximum penalty of five years' jail. All three men have pleaded not guilty.The Crown prosecutor, Mark Gibson, told the court that discussions continued with lawyers for Mr Blumberg over the possibility of his pleading guilty to some charges."We are hopeful of resolving that," Mr Gibson said.Mr Smith's lawyer, Mark Regan, said his client would contest the charges at trial. But Mr Regan said he would negotiate with prosecutors "in due course".Justice Paul Coghlan told Mr Regan it was important to act quickly. "In due course means now," Justice Coghlan said. "I don't know what it is Mr Fitzgerald's client [Mr Emini] might say in his statement, but that might be something your client wants to see."Justice Coghlan extended bail for Mr Emini and Mr Blumberg until May 9 and adjourned the hearing until then.Mr Smith's bail was extended until July 18, which Justice Coghlan indicated was a possible start date for his trial.