Court convicts Alan Bond of fraud over Manet painting


ALAN Bond, the Australian businessman who built and lost an international brewing, media and property empire, was yesterday found guilty on four counts of company fraud linked to the purchase of La Promenade, the French impressionist painting by Eduard Manet.

The verdict is expected to be followed on Monday by fines and another prison sentence for Bond (58) who had a brief stint in jail in 1992.

The price of La Promenade price was central to the prosecution arguments, which convinced a jury after two days of deliberation. It was argued that Bond caused his main public company, Bond Corporation, to miss a prime opportunity to buy the painting at a generous discount to its market value in 1988.

Instead, the masterpiece, then being leased by Bond Corporation, was bought by Dallhold Investments, Bond's private company, for Aus$2.46 million (£1.2 million).

Dallhold sold it at auction in New York a year later for Aus$17 million. Bond maintained the dealings were in line with a profit sharing arrangement between the two companies. However, the prosecution said that this claim was a fabrication.

Yesterday's conviction marks the latest plunge in the remarkable roller coaster career of the English born businessman, who began his rise from a one man commercial painting company and crowned his success by lifting the America's Cup yachting trophy from the US in 1983.

By the late 1980s, Bond had amassed a huge empire, stretching from his base in Perth to Hong Kong, London and beyond. But his Aus$10 billion business crumbled after the stock market dive in 1987 and the collapse of the Rothwells investment bank in Western Australia, where he was an important customer. In 1992, Bond was declared bankrupt and jailed over illegal dealings involving Rothwells.

Bond faces further court proceedings next year over his part in an alleged Aus$1 billion fraud involving Bell Resources.