Meta demands Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest papers in clickbait scam battle

Billionaire Andrew Forrest was among those caught up in the scam advertisements on Facebook.

Billionaire Andrew Forrest was among those caught up in the scam advertisements on Facebook. Photo: AAP

Facebook’s parent company Meta has issued a summons for billionaire Andrew Forrest to hand over sensitive documents amid a legal battle over an alleged cryptocurrency clickbait advertising scam.

Lawyers for the tech giant took the unusual step of issuing a summons to demand 20 categories of documents, alleging the mining magnate’s lawyers had failed to hand over papers relevant to the legal battle.

The documents include some of Forrest’s personal emails and communication about overseas litigation funding for the case he has launched against the social media platform in the US.

Meta also wants a copy of a draft letter sent by prosecutors to the Commonwealth attorney-general, a document that Western Australia’s Magistrates Court heard was privileged.

Prosecutors allege Meta was criminally reckless in allowing bogus advertisements for a cryptocurrency investment scheme using Forrest’s image to appear on its site.

Meta is accused of failing to take sufficient steps to take down the scam advertisements, which feature the billionaire and other prominent Australians.

The company’s lawyer Paul Yovich SC said on Monday that Forrest’s legal team had been vague about whether it had executed its obligations as he argued in support of the summons.

“Having said emphatically in correspondence in relation to certain categories of documents sought by the defence that there were no further documents to provide, following exchanges of submissions between the parties, there are more,” he told the court in Perth.

“When the prosecutor says there are no further documents to disclose I cannot have complete confidence that is completely accurate.”

The documents Meta wants also include multiple emails between Forrest’s lawyers, emails to expert witnesses and reports about the use of third-party advertisements featuring his name.

Forrest’s lawyer Rachael Young said the summons was an abuse of process and unlawful, and many of the documents that Meta sought were not relevant to the case.

She urged the court to cancel Meta’s summons, and said the prosecution team had already supplied 18 folders of documents and complied with its obligations under the well-established rules of the court system.

Young also asked the court to reject Meta’s application to use documents from similar proceedings involving the company in US and Irish courts, saying they were also irrelevant and protected by legal privilege.

These documents also include Forrest’s communications with his lawyers about an expert witness.

Meta has previously pleaded not guilty in the same court to three counts of recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime to the value of $1000 or more during the long-running legal stoush that started almost two years ago.

Forrest has previously said he made repeated requests to Facebook to take down the advertisements which he alleges appeared in 2019.

He also launched civil proceedings against Facebook in California in September 2021.

The WA matter will return to court on November 20 when Magistrate Melita Medcalf is expected to deliver her judgment.

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