Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron disqualified after shares ruling

Jan Cameron has been found guilty of failing to provide information on holdings to the ASX.

Jan Cameron has been found guilty of failing to provide information on holdings to the ASX. Photo: AAP

Prolific businesswoman and philanthropist Jan Cameron has been disqualified from heading companies for five years after being found guilty of not disclosing shares worth millions of dollars.

Cameron, who founded Kathmandu, was found guilty of failing to provide information about substantial holdings to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) as well as making a false or misleading statement.

A Hobart court in December found Cameron used an entity on a Dutch Caribbean island to hide that she controlled $14 million in shares in baby formula company Bellamy’s.

She failed to disclose the purchase to the ASX, as required.

Cameron was also found to have submitted a misleading substantial shareholder notice to the ASX in 2017, in which she did not list the interest.

Magistrate Michael Daly on Thursday recorded a conviction against Cameron on the two charges, which carries an automatic ban on directing or managing a company for five years.

She was also fined $8000.

An earlier court hearing was told Cameron, who didn’t answer questions from media outside court, had lodged an appeal against the guilty ruling.

Cameron’s lawyer Peter Bruckner told the court recording a conviction would have “extraordinary consequences” for her companies and philanthropic work.

Bruckner said Cameron was the director of 14 companies in Australia and six in New Zealand that employed hundreds of people.

“She is an extraordinary Australian. She would have to pull her head in and not do all this wonderful work for Australia,” he said.

Cameron, who was at one stage Australia’s fourth-richest woman, has established and supported various charities and has bought land to safeguard Tasmanian devils.

Daly noted Cameron was a person of the “highest character”, apart from the two offences, and was a sophisticated investor and director.

“(Cameron) has led not only a blameless life but one where her remarkable philanthropic activity is prodigiously widespread,” he said.

“(It has had a) very high impact on the wellbeing of multiple sectors of the Australian community.”

But Daly agreed with crown prosecutor Angus Macauley that not recording a conviction would amount to an error and not be proportionate to the crime.

Daly noted the two charges were “two sides of the same coin” and Cameron had not done anything similar before or since.

He referenced media coverage of the court proceedings.

“More likely than not (Cameron) … is unlikely to repeat the conduct given the attention, the investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Macauley described Cameron’s conduct as premeditated and concerted.

“(There was) a very large and complex array of transactions for subterfuge,” he said.

“This is not something that occurred as a spur of the moment.”

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