A comment on Forestry Tasmania Chief Bob Gordon’s claim that he cannot name companies owing FT $40 million in unpaid debts “because it would be inappropriate because some are publicly listed”.
I won’t comment on Mr Gordon’s knowledge of forestry matters, as that isn’t my field of expertise. I’ll also refrain from being too critical of the reported facts in this story in the (likely) event the ABC have misinterpreted certain comments (Forestry Tasmania debt burden growns, HERE)
However, if Mr Gordon is implying he is unable to name bad debtors due to their status of being ASX listed companies, then he is incorrect.
Nowhere, in either ASX listing rules or Corporations Law, is there a restriction on publication of data relating to debtors, either sound or in breach of their commitments.
If that means Mr Gordon has inadvertently misled Parliament, then he has the opportunity to put the record straight.
What won’t surprise readers is the fact the ASX requires far higher levels of disclosure than those that apply to organisations such as Tasmanian Government Business Enterprises.
I’d go so far as to say that if Mr Gordon has information that one of his `listed company customers’ (and I can only think of one) is having trouble paying its bills, it would be his moral and legal obligation as a senior public servant to report that matter to both ASIC and the ASX.
Listed companies, unlike GBEs, are unable to hide behind the `commercial-in-confidence’ cloak. They are responsible to both the law, and their shareholders.
Posted by Jarvis Cocker on 18/04/11 at 08:14 PM