But our intel suggest this significantly undercooks the matter.
To defend executive Richard Moscati merely between October 1, 2020 and November 3, 2021 (when the bank’s last annual report was released), ANZ spent $1.81 million on legal fees.
It’s been disclosing smaller amounts spent on his defence under its employee indemnity policy every year since FY18, including $1.2 million in the period covered by the FY20 annual report.
The five other executives charged would have needed similar and separate legal representation (probably billed to their employers). The three institutions charged would have needed more.
And then there are the fees incurred at JPMorgan, whose approach to the ACCC (through its lawyers at Gilbert + Tobin) helped kick the whole thing off.
All up, some close to the case suggest a figure north of $80 million in legal bills stemming from the litigation across the finance sector. And, as this was a criminal matter as opposed to a civil one, that isn’t money anyone can expect to recoup.
(The CDPP’s shock withdrawal of the case last month led Justice Michael Wigney to ponder whether some reimbursement of defence costs was, in this instance, appropriate. But he wasn’t at that stage sure there was even provision under the Federal Court Act through which this could occur.)
The case has been a professional and personal disaster for many of its defendants, and hardly a shining moment for the regulator either.
Though, at least ACCC types can look on the bright side of their recent litigation record, with $83.5 million in fines resulting from the CDPP prosecution of a criminal cartel involving several international shipping companies. The latest penalties were levelled a week before the banking case was withdrawn.
Of course, that doesn’t include the legal fees…