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The Most Spectacular Fraud in Australian History

Firepower by Gerard Ryle
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When the Governor-General, Michael Jeffrey, launched Australia Week in Moscow in May 2005, this event had two major Australian sponsors. One was BHP Billiton, a truly global behemoth; the other, Firepower, was given equal billing and more publicity. When he wasn't banging his drum and bombarding the media and would-be investors with fanciful claims, the head of Firepower, Tim Johnston, spent much of his working life based in a Perth coffee-house while six low-tech employees on a second-hand press at a nearby industrial estate knocked out pills that allegedly created amazing reductions in fuel consumption.

Firepower was promoted at Australian taxpayers' expense by Austrade, whose European regional director later became its chief executive. Despite the fact that its magic pills were virtually unavailable in Australia, Firepower sponsored a dazzling array of sporting teams, from the iconic Sydney Rabbitohs to the Russian Rugby Union; little money was actually received by any of the teams and both the Sydney Kings and the Western Force suffered major damage from defaulting. At its height, Firepower was Big in Bucharest and given great support by the Russian Railways Research Institute of St Petersburg. Its heady connections included lawyers, politicians, bankers and sports stars. In the end something like $60 million went up in smoke, much of it having come from small and over-eager investors.

Privately, Tim Johnston divided his investors into Oranges and Lemons. As a former Firepower employee explained to Gerard Ryle in this compelling account of an almost incredible scam: Those who didn't know him enough yet, he called Oranges. They thought he was nice and sweet and juicy. But those who really got to know him became Lemons. He left them bitter and twisted.

Allen & Unwin; May 2009
304 pages; ISBN 9781741763256
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Title: Firepower
Author: Gerard Ryle
  • News
INTERVIEW/ Gerard Ryle: Focus was on politicians - Asahi Shimbun
Tue, 10 May 2016 02:54:25 -0700
Asahi ShimbunINTERVIEW/ Gerard Ryle: Focus was on politiciansAsahi ShimbunA: I had, for the previous three years, after I'd ...
Firepower: the most spectacular fraud in Australian history - The Roar (blog)
Sun, 03 May 2009 15:03:27 -0700
Firepower: the most spectacular fraud in Australian historyThe Roar (blog)To give you an idea, the episodes involving Meurant ...
Firepower needs more than a pill to treat its ills - WA today
Thu, 17 Dec 2009 20:26:24 -0800
WA todayFirepower needs more than a pill to treat its illsWA todayBefore the penny dropped and his promises of riches imploded, ...