19 February 1999
Mr A Hinton
Foreign Investment and Review Board (FIRB)
The Treasury Building
Dear Mr Hinton,
Is Columbia/HCA entering Australia again?
I believe that the Australian ran a small article today suggesting that Mayne Nickless is being eyed as a takeover target by Columbia/HCA. I cannot believe that our politicians can be so desperate to implement their corporatisation policies that they are inviting this company to come back to this country. They are the subject of multiple fraud investigations in the USA, are accused of paying kickbacks to doctors and several Qui Tam court actions alleging fraud have been joined by government. While claiming to have reformed their actual practices show little evidence of this, no contrition, nor any acceptance of their apparent criminal conduct. It is widely believed that the company will pay about a US $1 billion fine. Our federal politicians have been sent much of this information.
Columbia/HCA directors are likely to have little insight into the unacceptability and unfortunate consequences of their conduct and perhaps they believe that they can simply walk into Australia. It is of course possible that our politicians have betrayed our citizens and have quietly entered into international agreements which force them to allow multinationals corporations to enter Australia. Without a criminal conviction they cannot block them. It is likely that Columbia/HCA's US $1 billion settlement will include a "no wrongdoing admitted" clause. Colombia/HCA's lawyers will have advised Columbia of the legal vulnerability of our situation. I sincerely trust that the FIRB will if confronted by an application from Columbia/HCA advise unequivocally against this company and force the deputy treasurer to overrule their advice. Our citizens must ultimately hold politicians accountable and the facts must come out. FIRB should not allow itself to become a pliant tool of the government.
It may also be that the gullible ministers in South Australia and Victoria who were so welcoming of Columbia/HCA in 1997 are still under their spell.
Please be advised that I am in a position to supply you with large volumes of ongoing information regarding Columbia/HCA and may be in a position to secure more.
In the meantime please accept this letter as a formal objection to any application by Columbia/HCA to enter Australia. It would be a great disservice to the people of Australia if the FIRB failed to utilise my ability to obtain relevant information.