Firepower link-dump

My "what?!" for today was prompted by a Perth Now piece titled, wait for it, "Johnston builds new Firepower".

Yep - Tim Johnston, creator of the whole Firepower debacle, is "...trying to buy Firepower stock and assets for overseas-registered company Green Power Corporation".

(The piece goes on to point out that the Green Power Corporation in question is not this one in Thailand. So don't hassle them unless their Web site suddenly starts sprouting ads for magic fuel pills and/or expensive franchised engine-cleaning machines.)

[UPDATE:: "Firepower chief back to try again". Such grit! Such determination! In the face of such skepticism! The actual newspaper reports are now frankly calling Firepower's products "fake", but that does not deter Mr Johnston!]

While we're all waiting for a more pleasing headline - I suggest "Johnston gets twenty years stamping numberplates for conventionally-powered cars" - here's a selection of other recent coverage of the Firepower saga.

"Anderson in shares scandal" is another Perth Now piece, about the "colourful" Western Australian property developer who apparently bought a bunch of Firepower's not-quite-legally-issued shares and sold them on for a profit of more than four million bucks. (Here's a longer piece from The Australian on this subject. I presume Anderson is still eager to opine that Tim Johnston is not a criminal.)

How much of that four million, and all the other millions poured into getting a share of Firepower's worthless products, can the naïve investors expect to get back, I hear you ask?

That's right: Not a cent. Small investors are, as usual, screwed the hardest.

Firepower's largest single creditor (of a cast of thousands) continues to be Tim's former business partner Ross Graham, who I mentioned in this post.

The Firepower site still says Ross was very pleased to be involved with Firepower, on account of its amazingly valuable products and rock-solid business fundamentals - but what he's actually doing now is spending another hundred thousand bucks to get a liquidator of his choice appointed to the now-very-dead company, so as to maximise the chance that he'll get back at least a little of the ten million bucks he says he's owed.

I continue to wish Ross no luck at all in this venture. If you take an active role in a scam and then find that you're one of the people that ends up ripped off, you deserve what you got.

(Previously, there were hopes that Firepower could somehow be "rescued". Those hopes were of course dashed. The idea that Firepower was even worth rescuing was based on the incorrect assumption that the Firepower products were good for something, and not just the latest version of an old, old scam. That same scam had been run by the same guy on previous occasions, for Pete's sake.)

Slightly earlier: Firepower financial info 'goes missing'. Apparently Firepower kept some rather important salary information on one computer, with no backups. That computer apparently, like the Luggage, followed Tim Johnston to his current undisclosed, but probably lavishly furnished, location.

Said undisclosed location apparently has rather unreliable telephone service. Tim hasn't even been able to talk to creditors on the phone.

My occasional correspondent Gerard Ryle, still working on his book about the Firepower story, wrote "Firepower collapse fallout" for the Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently the sportspeople and teams who got stiffed for sponsorship money Firepower owed them, and the other sporting schmucks who invested in Firepower and lost the lot, were the lucky ones.

The unlucky ones are the ones who actually got money from Firepower - after it was already insolvent. They have of course generally spent that money, but may now have to repay it, because the creditors want it.

There's a point worth making: It's not even safe to accept payment from a rip-off artist. If the money he pays you turns out to not have been his to give, you can end up in a much worse situation than if he hadn't paid you at all.

Earlier, Tim Johnston was "reported to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission for further investigation". I expect ASIC to take three, or maybe seven, years to generate a very thorough report indeed on the several most reliable ways in which stable doors might, in future, be bolted.

To be fair, ASIC apparently started investigating Firepower late last year, after previously ignoring warnings. And shady companies like Firepower can pretty much always slither past government regulators for a while, partly because they simply don't file any of the legally-required paperwork, and so don't appear on the regulators' radar until plenty of suckers have already paid up. But it wasn't until July this year that they took real concrete action. Casual basketball fans figured the situation out earlier than that.

So it really does seem that ASIC were very slow to react to the quite obvious shonkiness of this very high-profile company. I suppose the fact that Firepower had leverage with Austrade didn't hurt.

4 Responses to “Firepower link-dump”

  1. derrida derider Says:

    Those "naive investors" shoulda paid attention at school. This scam was actually founded on worse violations of the laws of physics than the laws of finance.

    I wonder if its too late to try another float of An undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.

  2. j Says:

    Derrida, I would direct your attention toward:

    ...which is effectively the same thing, but at least it's setting its crosshairs so high that only rich idiots could suffer.

  3. pompomtom Says:

    So, is 'colourful Western Australian property developer' the same as 'colourful Victorian racing identity'?

  4. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I have, of course, no idea whatsoever what you might mean by that.

    (I actually screwed up the link from "colourful", and didn't escape out the punctuation properly. It's fixed now, so it actually goes somewhere. When you don't even have to add "colourful" to a search for someone's name to get a lot of... colourful... results, you know you're looking at a real Technicolour Dreamcoat of a bloke.)

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