Fortescue cleared of misconduct

UPDATE: Fortescue Metals Group has described a fight with the national corporate regulator as an "expensive distraction" after being cleared of wrongdoing by the High Court on Tuesday.

Fortescue Deputy Chairman Herb Elliott said the decision ended "an eight-year-long process that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission thought was appropriate but was ultimately determined to be wrong".

"We can now focus our full attention to ensuring the continued success of Fortescue Metals Group for many years to come," Mr Elliot said in a statement.

The 2006 allegations against the mining powerhouse - headed by Australia's richest man Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest" -followed ASX statements it had a number of binding agreements with Chinese companies to develop projects in Western Australia.

ASIC believed these contracts were not bound by domestic laws, they were not binding.

It won the first round in the Federal Court, but Forrest and Fortescue fought back in the High Court on Tuesday.

The court unanimously cleared Fortescue of wrongdoing, on the grounds that anyone reading those announcements would understand both Fortescue and the Chinese firms intended them to be binding.

ASIC deputy chair Belinda Gibson said the regulator must now consider the consequences of the loss.
"We will now assess what impact the High Court's decision has on disclosure requirements," she said.

ASIC will now work with the ASX to consider whether changes need to be made to ensure companies are transparent with potential investors..

 

EARLIER: Australia's richest man Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has won a High Court battle against the corporate regulator which accused his company, Fortescue Metals Group, of misleading and deceptive conduct.

The 2006 allegations followed announcements by the mining powerhouse it had a number of binding agreements with Chinese companies to develop projects in Western Australia.

Australian Securities and Investment Commission believed as these contracts were not bound by domestic laws, they were not binding.

It won round one in the Federal Court, but Forrest and Fortescue fought back in the High Court on Tuesday.

The court unanimously cleared Fortescue of wrongdoing, on the grounds that anyone reading those announcements would understand both Fortescue and the Chinese firms intended them to be binding.

ASIC is expected to release its response late on Tuesday.



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